By Mark Hallum
State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) led a rally at Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center last week to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to redirect state finds from elderly care as proposed in his recent budget proposal. The budget could pull $17 million from senior center funding and force around 65 facilities around the city to close their doors.
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) also delivered remarks stressing the importance of the Title XX funds at the Feb. 23 rally.
“I strongly urge Gov. Cuomo to reconsider his budget proposal, which would have a devastating impact on thousands of seniors in New York City,” Braunstein said. “Senior centers provide vital services to the elderly, including a place to socialize, as well as meals and health and recreational programs. While we agree that funding for child care is important and should be increased, it should not come at the expense of the health and welfare of seniors who are already worried about potential cuts on the federal level.”
According to Braunstein, the funds are being redirected towards childcare services, a move Stavisky expressed sadness about because it would pit two vulnerable demographics against each other.
“I am disappointed by the governor’s proposal to redirect funds from our senior centers,” Stavisky said. “For many seniors, coming to facilities such as Selfhelp is an important part of their daily routine, acting as a source for socializing and learning. I have already received concerns from constituents who are afraid their senior center will be one of the 65 that will close if this proposal goes through. It is not fair to leave seniors and employees uncertain of their senior center’s fate. We must find an alternative way to come up with the funding that won’t deeply impact the people of New York.”
Stavisky explained to the 100 or so seniors gathered in Selfhelp’s conference hall that the Senate Democratic Conference would have a budget proposal in which they ask for the restoration of the $17 million to the state budget. According to Stavisky, seniors came close to losing funding in a similar way five years ago, but the elderly fought back by writing letters to the governor and the Assembly to have the money restored to the budget.
“The proposed cuts in the governor’s budget to Title XX funding that helps our seniors is unacceptable and would have a devastating impact on senior centers in Queens,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “These social services are a lifeline, and we need to ensure senior centers and other crucial programs are fully funded.”
Rozic said that although the funds may seem small, at the city level they are critical for seniors to have services they need in their communities.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall