Our senior citizens deserve better
Jun 16, 2010 | 7712 views | 0 0 comments | 244 244 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Why does it seem that the city's most vulnerable groups are the ones being hit the hardest by these doomsday budget cuts? First, it was day care centers and schools; now 50 senior centers are being forced to close their doors as of July 1.

It's especially unjust that the budget is being balanced on the backs of seniors, who in their day worked hard and paid taxes with the expectation that they would be taken care of in their old age.

The Department for the Aging (DFTA) selected the senior centers to be closed based on three criteria:

if they serve fewer than 30 meals daily; if they are part-time and satellite centers; if they have chronic issues such as management or fiscal problems.

Considering the budget issues the city is being faced with, the criteria admittedly make a bit of sense if closures are inevitable. However, the problem with that system is that all senior centers fitting those criteria are lumped into one category.

Nearly half of the centers on the list for closure are located in New York City Housing Authority developments. As if seniors don't already live on fixed incomes, now the poorest seniors will be losing out on much-needed social services.

A DFTA spokesperson said the agency will continue to provide the same number of meals within the senior center network, and will transport affected seniors to nearby centers, but will seniors who have been frequenting the senior center in their building for years choose to go to a new, unfamiliar center, or just opt to stay home? It's a gamble.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said last week that the Legislature voted to restore money that would prevent centers from closing, but being that the state still hasn't passed a budget, it seems like just talk at this point. Not to mention that the mayor might choose to put that money some place else.

At a time when there is talk of cutting police officers, firefighters and teachers, among other jobs and services, these closures don't really shock us anymore. Everybody's got to give a little to get a little, right? But tell that to the 1,500 (30 meals x 50 centers) or so seniors who are being displaced from their local centers and they'll probably tell you they feel like they're just losing.

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