Monday, March 21, 2011

CM James and Elected Officials Rally In Opposition to Senior Center Closings


Council Member James urged the community, all seniors and advocates to mobilize against severe threats to senior services

(Brooklyn, NY) – Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have joined forces to cut funding for New York City’s senior centers, many who rely on these centers for meals, social activities, and companionship. The Bloomberg Administration announced its plan to close over 100 centers throughout the five boroughs, putting as many as ten thousand seniors at risk of hunger and social isolation.

“This potentially devastating loss of state funding would profoundly affect senior centers across New York City. We are working hard to have this action reversed, but unless the state dollars are restored, DFTA will be forced to close up to 105 of its 256 senior centers,” said Christopher Miller Director of Public Affairs, NYC Department for the Aging.

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery said: “Our Seniors built this country and this city with their work and dedication, and we will not balance the budget on their backs. The Legislature has identified funding for these programs, and these programs will be saved!”

“The reduction in state funding for ‘mandated’ services and the consequent diversion of financing used for ‘discretionary’ services will drastically weaken a necessary support system for our seniors that has been in place for more than twenty years,” said State Senator Eric Adams. “After decades of hard work providing for their families, senior citizens deserve fundamental services and protections so that they can continue to lead healthy and active lives. The dire economic condition of the State of New York requires severe budgetary constraints, but it is imperative that our senior citizens do not bear the brunt of this fiscal retrenchment.”

“Long before I was old enough to use one, I was the president of a senior center from 1973 to 1978,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “So, I know firsthand the central role they play in seniors’ lives. Cutting $25.2 million of funding would force 105 centers to close in New York City, 31 in Brooklyn alone. With our economy and aging population, not only is this the wrong time to cut funding we should be increasing funding for senior centers. For seniors, the ‘social network’ isn’t about Facebook or Twitter—it’s about the people they meet and socialize and interact with at the neighborhood senior center.”

“I believe there are only two reasons that any of us are here, God and our seniors, and we’ll be judged by how we treat them. The State wants to close two out of the three centers in my district. How can one center serve all of my seniors? What about the millionaire’s tax extension or the "421A" tax abatement program? Yankee’s player, Alex Rodriguez, practically gets a free ride while our senior centers are decimated,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams.

Igal Jellinek, Executive Director, Council of Senior Centers and Services, CSCS, said: “On behalf of thousand older New Yorkers, we are proud that Brooklyn’s elected leaders are standing with them to protect senior centers. However, the fight is not over until it is over. Senior centers are still in danger of closing by April 1. Older New Yorkers, elected leaders, service providers, and advocates must continue to place pressure on the governor and tell him to stand up for seniors by standing with Brooklynites. Our elected leaders must make senior center funding mandatory so that older New Yorkers and their senior centers are not faced with this devastating cut every year.”

“A loss of $25 million to DFTA's senior center budget, or approximately 1/3 of funding for senior centers is reprehensible. We stand on the shoulders of these seniors; they are the backbone of society and I’m going to fight this with every fiber of my being,” said Council Member Letitia James. “Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have paid their dues, and their lifelines will not close on my watch. New York City senior centers are a vital source of community life.”

WHO: Council Member Letitia James
NYS Senator Eric Adams
U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke
NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery
NYS Assembly Member Annette Robinson
NYS Assembly Member Karim Camara
NYS Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries
Council Member Jumaane Williams
Council Member Lew Fidler
Council Member Mathieu Eugene

WHAT: Rally to Oppose the Closing of Senior Centers in New York City

WHERE: Steps of City Hall, Lower Manhattan

WHEN: Friday, March 18
11:00 AM


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