2008-06-20 / Community

Borough President Speaks On Closing Senior Centers

The following is a statement by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall on City Housing Authority Proposal to close all senior centers and naturally occurring retirement communities.

Fourteen senior centers in Queens' Housing Authority developments serve senior citizens and 11 community centers serve our youth with a multitude of programs that range from hot meals to tennis lessons.

It is inconceivable that a plan can be put forward that would annihilate meals, along with educational and recreational programs for vulnerable populations. During summer months, these programs take on added importance and many centers serve as cooling centers.

If this plan moves forward, seniors will face greater isolation in their apartments and decreased access to social situations, medical screening and information and counseling about entitlement programs. (At a recent City Council budget hearing, the City Housing Authority announced it was planning to close almost 150 senior centers). Queensbridge Houses alone is home to the largest public housing development in the country.

More than 370,000 individuals, 60 years or older, call Queens home and as they age we must provide them with the services and programs they need to stay healthy. (The Mayor's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2009, beginning July 1, calls for a three percent across the board cut for all senior programs. In May, Marshall asked that the proposed three percent in the Executive Budget be restored.) The City Department for the Aging administers seven of the 14 centers in NYCHA facilities.

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