Senior with computer
Senior with computer

Fifty lucky senior-citizen residents of the Jersey City Housing Authority will receive a free wifi-enabled tablet this fall thanks to the New Jersey chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. The AARP will also be donating up to 12 laptops to students at Hudson County Community College in return for teaching the seniors in person how to use them and some of the programs the devices feature.

“We are incredibly excited to support Jersey City Housing Authority …” said AARP New Jersey State Director, Stephanie Hunsinger. “Our goal at AARP New Jersey is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.”

Part of the organization’s annual Community Challenge Grant program, the NJ AARP grant is intended to reduce social isolation amongst senior citizens and to increase their access to community resources. Students at Hudson Community College, which is partnering with the JCHA on the project, will benefit in three ways: They will each receive a free brand-new laptop and an hourly stipend (in return for meeting with groups of the seniors up to five times). They will also gain teaching experience and all the satisfaction that comes with it.

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) is proud to partner with Jersey City Housing Authority in this important endeavor … ” said HCCC President, Dr. Christopher Reber in a press release issued by the NJ AARP. “While students will be rewarded with new laptops, their greatest reward will be working one-on-one with our most treasured community members.”

The Jersey City Housing Authority was chosen as one of eight entities by the state AARP out of 174 applicants to receive the Community Challenge grant this cycle. The authority administers approximately 7,100 residences roughly 2,500 of which are public. With over  15,000 clients, JCHA has in the last three years notched the highest scores for administration of Section 8 low-income housing in its history; in two of those years it scored highest in the state among similarly-sized municipal public housing authorities.

It is the Hudson Gardens complex at 27 Palisade Ave. that will receive the AARP’s largesse. The JCHA and the NJ AARP have had a working relationship for years.

“AARP has been a pivotal partner in JCHA’s digital inclusion work since 2020,” said Vivian Brady Phillips, Jersey City Housing Authority Executive Director in the press release. Phillips characterized the seniors in the city’s public housing developments as “part of one of the most digitally disconnected of all demographic groups.” This latest grant, which was written primarily by JCHA Chief of Staff Allison Strobel, will enable help the organization’s seniors to better access telehealth, entertainment, and distant family and friends,” she said.

The AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that lobbies for the interests of people 50 and older particularly with regard to health security, financial stability, and personal fulfillment, according to the organization’s publicity. The organization’s has awarded $3.4 million to 260 organizations nationwide since 2017 as part of its Livable Communities initiative, “which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages.”

The full list of this year’s Community Grant awardees can be found at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge. To learn more about the AARP, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

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Elizabeth Morrill

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.