Good Companions Senior Center, Madison Street.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron and State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou visited a Lower East Side senior center yesterday as part of a campaign to restore funding for NYC senior programs.
They made a stop at the Good Companions Senior Center, located at 334 Madison St. It’s a facility within the Vladeck Houses run by Henry Street Settlement. Also yesterday, Squadron stopped by a center on Bayard Street run by the Chinese American Planning Council.
In Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal, he calls for shifting federal funds from the city’s Department of Aging to child care services. In the past, the city had flexibility in how it allocated those funds. City officials have estimated that the shift could result in a $17 million shortfall in the Department of Aging and force the closure of 65 senior facilities.
On the Lower East Side, 13 centers could be impacted. They include facilities such as the BRC Neighborhood Senior Center at 30 Delancey St., the Grand Street Settlement Senior Center at 80 Pitt St. and the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living at the Educational Alliance.
In a statement, Squadron said, “New York’s senior centers do more than provide food and resources — they create community. Forcing centers to close or cut services would essentially leave seniors out in the cold, plain and simple… I urge Senate Leadership and my Assembly colleagues to ensure funding is protected.”
Squadron, who’s in the middle of a district-wide tour of senior centers, has started an online petition in support of his campaign.
Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Niou is taking up the fight to restore state funding to Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs). The governor is proposing a cut of $700,000 in the the program, which offers services to people who wish to stay in their communities as they grow older. Several NORCs are located on the Lower East Side. She’s also calling on the state to add $5 million to the budget for the expansion of the program across the state.
Finally, Niou is asking legislative leaders to fund settlement houses, which are currently not included in the budget. She wants $4 million to support community-based social services offered by the not-for-profit organizations. There are six major settlement houses on the Lower East Side.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on the restoration of funds to New York City’s senior centers:
I am proud to have fully restored state funding for New York City’s senior centers. In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that we take care of our older residents by maintaining the crucial services these centers provide, including hot nutritious meals, and health and wellness programs. Senior centers are a lifeline for tens of thousands of New York City residents, many of whom are living in poverty. Thanks to our commitment to keeping Title XX funding in the budget, seniors in New York City will be able to access the critical resources they have come to rely upon.
The University Settlement's Senior Center, at 189 Allen Street.
There’s quite a lot of consternation about New York’s proposed budget, one of the most austere in years. But advocates for the city’s senior centers are, to say the least, relieved that the governor agreed to restore $25 million in Title XX funding.
We’ve been reporting about the threatened cuts, which could have forced the city to close six senior centers on the Lower East Side.
Care providers and advocacy organizations, including University Settlement, Hamilton Madison House and the Bowery Residents’ Committee here on the LES, fought against the cuts.
There were City Hall rallies, letter writing campaigns and phone banking. Both the Assembly and Senate restored funding in their proposed budgets — and following negotiations between the governor and Legislative leaders over the weekend, it became clear everyone was committed to keeping the centers open.
We’ve been keeping an eye on the fight to save 105 senior centers in New York City (six of those centers are on the Lower East Side). Both the Senate and Assembly passed budget proposals yesterday, rejected Governor Cuomo’s decision to shift federal funding away from senior programs. According to a news release from Speaker Sheldon Silver:
The $133 billion Assembly budget proposal… restores $36 million and rejects the executive budget proposal to redirect Title XX discretionary funds typically allotted to these senior centers to local child welfare services… (and) protects several senior programs slated for elimination in the executive budget by restoring 75 percent for programs.
In a statement today, the Council for Senior Centers and Services said, “Advocacy efforts to save senior centers have forced elected leaders to take action.” While praising the votes in Albany, the advocacy organization declared the “fight is not over” until Governor Cuomo agrees, in negotiations, to restore the funding.
This morning, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver rallied at City Hall with fellow lawmakers and housing activists to push for the extension and expansion of rent regulation laws. They stood with representatives from the Community Service Society, which has just released a report “documenting rent-stabilized housing’s critical role in protecting millions of working New Yorkers.” Tomorrow, we’ll have more on the report and the rent law battle in Albany.
Following the rally, Speaker Silver commented on two other stories we’ve been following.
The University Settlement's Senior Center, at 189 Allen Street.
This afternoon, members of the City Council and community activists will gather on the steps of City Hall to protest the Department of Aging’s decision to close 105 senior centers. The city says it has no choice — since Governor Cuomo has decided to divert $25 million in federal funds from senior services to child welfare programs. Six centers on the Lower East Side are threatened with closure, the most of any neighborhood.
It’s like a second home. Every weekday, around 150 seniors gather inside a lively community center at 189 Allen Street. Some come for a hot meal — others for ballroom dancing — or a friendly game of checkers. On Friday, we stopped by the center, run by University Settlement, to talk with seniors and staff members about the unsettling news that this center and five others on the Lower East Side are on the chopping block.
On Thursday, the city’s Department of Aging announced a draconian plan to close 105 senior centers (40% of the system) due to proposed budget cuts in Albany. Service providers say the LES is being hit harder than any other neighborhood. According to Gotham Gazette, the Department of Aging decided to cut 30% from each community district. Any center serving fewer than 85 meals a day was placed on the closure list.
Bad news from the city today. Due to proposed budget cuts in Albany, 105 senior centers in the five boroughs may be forced to close. According to City Councilmember Margaret Chin’s office, six of those centers are on the Lower East Side. They are:
- BRC Senior Nutrition Program, 30 Delancey
- Educational Alliance, 197 East Broadway
- LaGuardia Senior Center, 280 Cherry Street
- Smith Houses Senior Center, 50 Madison Street
- University Settlement Nutrition, 189 Allen Street
- Polish & Slavic Center, 103 East 7th Street (District 2)
Among the devastating cuts being proposed in Mayor Bloomberg’s budget, two Lower East Side senior centers have been slated for closure. This morning at 11, there will be a march down Avenue D to protest the decision, which would shutter the the Lillian Wald and Jacob Riis senior centers. The march is being organized by Charlotte Miles, tenant association president at the Wald Houses. The march begins at East 10th Street and Avenue D and will proceed down to Houston.