Best Practices for Livable Communities

A Livable Community is one that has affordable and appropriate housing; adequate transportation and mobility options; accessible health and human services; and workforce, volunteer and community engagement opportunities that enable citizens to thrive across their lifespan. These amenities help to maximize individual independence and quality of life while enhancing the economic, civic and social vitality of the community.

Recognizing the work local governments and community leaders across the nation have undertaken to create livable communities for all ages, n4a’s Livable Communities program has identified some of the best and most promising practices to share. Best practices take some of the guesswork out of planning, and may help bolster the credibility of your initiative within your community or even secure funding. However, while best practices may in some cases be replicable in other communities, their primary benefit is to learn from and assess which parts may apply in the context of your own community. For this reason, we have chosen to offer as learning instruments a limited number of best practices that provide sufficient depth in order to help you ask the right questions.

Key aspects to consider when assessing if a best practice is appropriate for your initiative:
1. Decide if it fits with your community, initiative, and the population you want to serve. Does it meet the needs of your specific audience, such as the very frail, persons who are not native English speakers, etc.?
2. Determine whether it addresses your specific goals. An existing best practice might address a similar issue but not provide the outcomes you seek.
3. Assess whether the best practice is well-aligned with the structure or philosophy of your program. Will it make sense to your staff, volunteers, community members? Will they be on board?
4. Identify what resources you have available to support the model. Can you reallocate or tap into existing resources, or identify other interested parties to leverage strategic partnerships?

The case studies provided are arranged by topic. They offer insight on how communities approached problems, adapted existing models, what they learned along the way, and in some cases, how they use that knowledge to continue building momentum. Contact information is provided along with every case study for communities interested in learning more.

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