Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is calling on Mayor Bloomberg to remove the Boro Park Y and Agudah Senior Centers from the list of senior centers slated for closure. An advisory sent to all senior centers from the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) states that unless the $25 million in federal Title XX monies are restored by the state, DFTA will be forced to close up to 110 of the 256 senior centers citywide.
In a letter to Bloomberg regarding the proposed closures of these two centers, Hikind wrote, “This is most certainly a travesty, as these centers provide vital services to the elderly, particularly Holocaust survivors, in the form of social support, hot, nutritious meals, exercise, advocacy and activities. Moreover, it is brutally unfair to target the only two centers located in Boro Park which also serve kosher meals.”
The letter continues, “While I recognize that budget cuts are an inevitable reality given the current economic situation at both the City and State levels, I urge you in the strongest of terms to remove these centers from DFTA’s chopping block as a matter of equity for the Boro Park community. . . . The Holocaust survivors in my district have already sacrificed enough. The closure of these centers would prove nothing short of devastating to them.”
On a daily basis, the Boro Park Y feeds and assists more than 250 people, while the Agudah Center serves 104 meals in-house, 133 home-bound meals, and 48 meals to senior housing projects. Over 70% of seniors who attend these centers are Holocaust survivors. But for these two centers, many of these vulnerable seniors would otherwise go hungry and remain socially isolated.
The State Assembly and Senate are in the process of negotiating the 2011-12 budget.
Councilman Greenfield also released a statement:
“As the chair of the Senior Center Subcommittee of the New York City Council I am appalled at the indifference the Governor’s budget displays toward New York City’s seniors. The simple fact is that the Governor’s budget is responsible for the closure of 105 senior centers in New York City. That is why I will travel to Albany on Monday with the Commissioner of the Department for the Aging to personally lobby for the restoration of funding for our senior centers. Like many of my colleagues, I accepted the task of informing my senior centers in-person this morning. One 90 year old man pleaded with me ‘Please don’t let them close my senior center, if they do i will have nothing to live for.’ That was a stark reminder that we aren’t just dealing with dollars and cents, we are dealing with people’s lives.”