Epoch Times: New York Council Members Campaign to Save 110 Senior Centers
By Helena Zhu
Published March 10, 2010
NEW YORK—With Gov. David Paterson proposing to cut state funding for city senior centers, city council members, seniors, and advocates alike launched the Save Our Centers campaign on Tuesday.
In his budget, Paterson proposed to redirect $25.2 million in federal funds away from the city’s Department for the Aging (DFTA), which is more than a quarter of DFTA’s entire budget for senior centers. Cutting the fund will lead to the closure of 80 to 110 senior centers across the five boroughs, affecting as many as 5,500 seniors, according to the protesting group.
“These cuts would literally starve thousands of poor seniors,” said Aging Committee Chair Jessica Lappin in a release. “In addition to providing hot meals, these centers provide care, companionship, and case management to some of our neediest New Yorkers. Our state legislators simply cannot approve this cut.”
The Save Our Centers campaign will organize New York’s seniors to contact the governor’s office and their state legislators to urge them to reject the cut.
“The City Council has a proven record of success when it comes to defending our city’s senior centers,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “Older New Yorkers depend on senior centers as a lifeline, especially during this recession. We’re urging everyone to call their state legislators and the governor’s office to let them know these cuts are unacceptable. We won’t allow Albany to turn its back on our seniors.”
In New York, seniors are the fastest growing demographic group as life expectancy has reached a record high according to the Department of Health. According to a survey conducted by the Council of Senior Centers and Services, the average age of a senior center participant is 77, with approximately 50 percent having incomes under $10,000.
Seniors often go to the senior centers for meals and other services such as case management, legal services, recreational, and social activities, transportation, shopping services, counseling, and benefit assistance.
“It's disheartening to think that New York state is trying to balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens ... our seniors. These cuts are unacceptable and we will fight to make sure they are not implemented,” State and Federal Legislation Committee Chair Helen Diane Foster said.