New York’s senior citizens rally for housing repairs, oppose funding cuts to aging services

senior citizens
Senior citizens and community organizations in New York rallied together to call for upgrades and repairs to senior centers in the city.
Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Comunity Services

Senior citizens and community organizations across New York held a rally at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens on Thursday, where they called for senior centers to be repaired and upgraded—and for the better services for older adults.

Representatives of LiveOn NY, an advocacy group representing more than 4 million seniors and 120 living centers throughout the state, led the rally where the attendees demanded structural repairs and upgrades of senior center complexes. They also seek an increase in staffing to meet the needs of the growing senior population.

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

The attendees also denounced Mayor Adams’ proposed $18 million cuts to the city’s 300-plus older adult centers.

The rally, which included more than 100 seniors as well as service providers, also saw several elected officials in attendance, including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Assemblymember Steven Raga and a representative for Council Member Shekar Krishnan. The attendees were all united in their opposition to the funding cuts and in their call for immediate improvements to senior living condition.

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

The rally comes at a time when there have been reports of several centers being in need of critical repairs, including damaged floors, broken air conditioners and refrigerators, hindering service providers’ ability to meet the needs of seniors. These issues, advocates say, coupled with the threats of budget cuts, paint a bleak picture for the future of aging services in New York.

On Thursday, the New York City Council’s Committee on Aging held a preliminary budget hearing where older adults and advocates testified against the proposed cuts. Their testimony echoed what was said at the rally, where attendees expressed their concerns about budget cuts and about the neglect and underfunding of senior services.

Kevin Kiprovski, director of public policy at LiveOn NY, highlighted at the rally the need for remodeling the centers, as well as the need more case managers. He expressed concern over the mayor’s proposed funding cut.

“There is not a person in here who isn’t aging,” said Kiprovski, noting the collective outcry and the critical role of older adults in communities and the necessity of providing high-quality social services.

In support of these demands, Richards recognized the role older adults play in families and communities. “Our older adults are the backbones of our families and our neighborhoods. To ensure they age with dignity, we must ensure all service organizations are well-funded,” he said.

Raga also highlighted the importance of seniors in his district, stressing the need for benefits and culturally impactful events.

The sentiment was echoed by Jolene Boden, director of case management at Sunnyside Community Services, who also noted the increased workload faced by case managers due to decreased funding.

Sunnyside Community Services director of case management Jolene Boden speaks at the rally. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

“The number of older seniors in our country grows, yet funding is decreasing while the workload increases, and now there are also threats of budget cuts.”