Closing Senior Centers in NYC Housing Authority Buildings will Increase Hunger Among Poor Elderly New Yorkers
Due to a budget deficit at the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), the city is planning to close dozens of senior centers located in NYCHA buildings. In 2003, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Department for the Aging (DFTA) and NYCHA which exchanged $30 million of city funds for federal HUD funds to help operate the 100 senior centers located in NYCHA buildings. DFTA continued to administer the programs. Only $18 million was added into the city budget to meet NYCHA’s deficit - $195 million overall, with about $70 million for community services. It is unclear how much of these funds will go to senior centers as youth programs, day care and community centers are also at risk.
To its credit, the Bloomberg administration has recently reconfigured the poverty measure. This resulted in poverty among elderly New Yorkers climbing from 18% to 32%, or one out of 3 seniors falling below poverty from one out of 5. In May, 2008, City Planning released a study on neighborhoods that lack sufficient supermarkets. Not surprisingly, the areas that lack supermarkets overlap greatly with the areas where poor elderly New Yorkers live and attend NYCHA senior centers. NYCHA is also the largest landlord of poor elderly in NYC – 60,000 heads of households, are age 62+.
We urge NYCHA, DFTA, the Bloomberg administration and City Council, as well as state and congressional elected officials, to do all it can to prevent the closing of senior centers that would deprive poor seniors of meals and
services. Food prices are escalating. Seniors living on a fixed income are already facing challenges affording food.