More than 17,000 write in opposition to senior center closures

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Assemblymembers, aging advocates urge rejection of Title XX funding shift

(ALBANY, NY) – Assemblymembers and aging advocates joined together to highlight the growing concern with the proposed shift of Title XX funding in the Executive Budget proposal. Concerned seniors from New York City have sent more than 17,000 letters to Governor Cuomo’s office in opposition of the proposed shift, which would result in the closure of 65 senior centers in New York City and affect 6,000 seniors per day. At Wednesday’s news conference, 17,000 pieces of paper were presented to signify the enormous letter writing campaign undertaken by seniors who will be directly affected by the proposal.

“We’ve been working to make New York a place where seniors have the necessary supports to age in place comfortably,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging. “This proposed shift of federal funding will not only force New York City to immediately close 65 senior centers, but will also affect Adult Protective Services in Upstate counties. The State should be building our human service sector, not balancing the budget on their backs.”

“I strongly oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposal to divest $27 million in Title XX discretionary funding away from helping Senior Citizens. This proposed shift in funds would result in the closure of approximately 65 senior centers, affecting more than 6,000 individuals per day. These facilities offer programs to our seniors including subsidized, hot meals, healthy activities, and providing case assistance and information for crucial government programs. As I stand with Assemblywoman Lupardo and Assemblywoman Jaffe, along with my colleagues in government, I am proud to defend one of New York’s most vulnerable populations, our seniors, in order to oppose the Governor’s proposed shift of Title XX funding,” Said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (A.D. 28), Chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee.

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D- Suffern), Chair of the Assembly Children and Families Committee said, “New York’s children and families urgently need quality, affordable child care to keep parents working and children learning. Currently, 83% of low-income families in New York State who qualify for child care assistance don’t get it, creating a significant crisis for families, children and our communities. Without access to childcare, parents are not able to work and move themselves out of poverty. At the same time we cannot have our seniors, who live on fixed incomes, competing with low-income children. Title XX funding is used for critical programming, including preventive and protective services to children, and services to seniors. The Governor’s proposal pits one vital service against another resulting in a net loss for children, families and our local communities. It is imperative that we allocate the 27 million in discretionary funding to local counties, significantly increase funding for affordable quality child care, and invest in the economic wellbeing of all New Yorkers.”

New York State receives $98 million in Federal Title XX funds which is allocated to the counties for Domestic Violence and Adult Protective Services. $27 million of that funding can be used at the counties’ discretion. In New York City, the funding is used to support senior centers.

The Executive Budget proposal requires counties to use that discretionary funding for child care subsidies. New York City has estimated that if the proposal is approved, it will be forced to immediately close 65 senior centers, affecting 6,000 seniors per day. Seniors would also lose meals, access to transportation, and health, educational, and recreational programs.

Beth Finkel, AARP of New York State Director said, “Senior centers are an incredibly valuable resource not just for seniors but for their families and our communities. These centers provide vital nutrition, socialization and health promotion for seniors that help avoid less effective and costlier services. AARP wholeheartedly supports Assemblywoman Lupardo’s efforts to restore in the final state budget the $27 million that has sustained these centers for decades.”

“While Governor Cuomo’s announcement to make New York the first age friendly state in the nation is laudable, it is disturbing that his budget would then close 65 NYC senior centers,” said Bobbie Sackman, Associate Executive Director of Public Policy, LiveOn NY. “The closing of 65 senior centers would deprive 6,000 seniors a day of a local senior center, 1.5 million meals annually would be lost, and 24,000 hours of case assistance to help seniors access public benefits, housing concerns, and other necessary aid in their own language would disappear. LiveOn NY and our partners will continue to work to return the Title XX funds to senior centers which they have funded for four decades.”

The Legislature has until April 1, 2017 to approve the 2017-18 state budget.