Nearly $325,000 in funding for senior services will be distributed by the Queens borough president’s office to support senior centers, home care, meal services and more, Borough President Donovan Richards announced Monday, Jan. 10.
One year after a dedicated NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA) funding stream administered by each borough president’s office was eliminated in the fiscal year 2021 budget, Richards announced the restoration of the $1.1 million Borough President’s Discretionary DFTA Fund.
“Our elders disproportionately bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. From food and housing insecurity to isolation and the virus itself, which has proven to be deadliest for older individuals, the obstacles our seniors have faced these past two years are numerous,” Richards said.
The fiscal year 2021 expense budget, which was passed just three months after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw millions of dollars in cuts to DFTA, including the elimination of a $1.1 million pool of discretionary funding shared amongst the five borough presidents’ offices and allocated to senior service organizations across their respective boroughs.
The cut was opposed by all five borough presidents, including then-Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, who said that Queens elders were “shafted and disproportionately shortchanged by the city’s budget.”
Upon taking office, Richards took an active role in getting the funding restored through negotiating with the City Council, including Queens Council members such as then-Committee on Finance Chair Councilman Daniel Dromm and borough delegation leader Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz.
In May 2021 Richards testified before the City Council Committee on Finance, stating that many Queens seniors are “wholly dependent” on the services this funding supports.
With the fund restored, the Queens borough president’s office has already begun partnering with senior service organizations to identify and allocate funding toward programs designed to uplift Queens’ elders.
“I’m proud to have fought tirelessly, and successfully, to get this critical funding stream restored this year, and I look forward to working with our senior service providers to help improve the lives of the more than 300,000 elders who proudly call Queens home — each one of them deserving of the ability to age with grace and dignity,” Richards said.