The Bloomberg administration released its list of more than 100 senior centers last Thursday slated to be closed if the state cuts $25 million from Title XX.
According to the Council of Senior Centers and Services (CSCS), the Department for the Aging (DFTA) released a list of the potential 105 senior centers closing all throughout the five boroughs – 31 in Brooklyn, 26 in Manhattan, 22 in Queens, 22 in the Bronx, and four in Staten Island.
“I hope that the city will find a way to put some portion of its $2 billion surplus toward keeping the centers open,” said State Senator Jose Peralta. “In Albany, I will do all that I can during state budget negotiations to save the centers.”
“I think it is horrible that the governor is trying to balance the budget on the backs of our vulnerable,” Councilmember Daniel Dromm noted.
The CSCS also indicated the closing of the centers would impact up to 10,000 senior citizens city wide, and the centers could be eliminated by April 1.
Igal Jellinek, executive director of CSCS, said, “Closing centers would force senior citizens into an isolated lifestyle.”
“The state needs to work on their budgets, but not by playing with the lives of the seniors to do it,” indicated Tammy Marrero, coordinator of the LeFrak Senior Citizens Center (LeFrak), on the targeted hit list.
“Personally I would like an open letter to our arrogant mayor and our stuff shirt governor,” said Harold Smith, 80, vice chair of LeFrak. “Ask Mr. Bloomberg if his mother had to go to a senior center for a buck and a half lunch, would he be so anxious to close it and would Mr. Cuomo stop his mother and father from going?”
When asked where he would go after the closing, Smith added, “I hate to say it, but sit and rot – there is no place to go, there is nothing else in this immediate area.”
Another listed is the Institute for the Puerto Rican Hispanic Elderly-Corona Senior Center (CSC).
Jose Burgos, 77, said, “I think it would be very bad that they close it, because it’s the only source of entertainment we have.”
“My concern is where will they go and what will happen to them,” Rafaela Villafana, associate director at CSC said.
Abraham Vasquez, 90, indicated, “We will fight with all our strength so that this does not happen.”
Danielle Burton, administrative assistant at the Elmor Senior Center, said, “To find that we are potentially on the chopping block is disturbing, we provide a valuable service.”
“The whole thing is horrible, the frail will end up in nursing homes, which the state will not fund either,” said Judy Ascherman, assistant director of the targeted Howard Beach Senior Center.
Sandy Gussin, 74, of Howard Beach, noted, “I’m an active woman and I’ll find things to do, but you cannot close it, you will do so much damage.”
Two other senior centers slated for elimination managed by Queens Community House – Forest Hills Senior Center and Pomonok Senior Center – have served low-income people.
“Closing these centers would mean that hundreds of seniors would be in isolation,” said Joe Hennessy, chairperson of Community Board 6.
“Our senior citizens depend on the services provided by the centers,” Assemblymember Grace Meng said.
The Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center, also being aimed at, Erin Brennan, senior program director, said, “It is shocking because we run a very active center here.”
“What are we suppose to do?” queried Millie Rigoli, 87. “Are they angry with us?”
“The center saved my life from depression as a survivor from the Holocaust,” said Clara Miles.
“If the center were to close I would stay home and watch television, I don’t want to become a vegetable and this place is keeping my mind active,” noted Cecelia Lifton, 91.
Nathan Buch, 86, said “I have two solutions to the problem – the seniors pay their dues so give us a break or kill us all off and they won’t have a problem with the seniors anymore.”
“Please understand, it’s an outlet for all of us and now the whole thing may be gone,” pleaded Ed Waxman, 84. “It’s like taking us and stabbing us.”
To view the full list of all the senior centers potentially closing visit www.cscs-ny.org/
See Editorial on page 18.