2008-06-27 / Top Stories

Assembly Protects Senior Services

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer, Chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, (DQueens) has reported that the Assembly has unanimously passed legislation that would stop the senior services consolidation by the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA). The bill, A.10470-A/S.8153, calls for an analysis of senior services consolidation in the areas of home delivered meals and case management to date, as well as an independent review of the Senior Options Program in Bronx County, prior to the authorization of any new contracts by the New York City Department for the Aging.

Currently, the New York City Department for the Aging has undertaken a massive consolidation effort for senior services throughout New York City. Case management, meals on wheels services, and senior center services are being put at risk as a result of the consolidation effort. While we must be looking to create a senior center that will be attractive to the next generation of seniors, we must not destroy senior centers of today to accomplish that goal. This bill calls on DFTA to analyze the way in which consolidation has taken place to this point and forces them to adjust their methods of consolidation to be more responsive to community concerns.

The legislation that was passed by the Assembly had more than forty-five sponsors from all five boroughs, indicating the widespread disapproval of the concepts being advanced by DFTA. "The Mayor's plan to 'modernize' senior center and 'restructure' the Meals on Wheels Program was really a plan that dismantled a system that successfully serves thousands of seniors in New York City. It is an ill-conceived plan that must be stopped," said Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (DBronx), Chairman of the Assembly Aging Committee and primary sponsor of the bill said "DFTA's plan to massively consolidate case management services, senior centers, and home delivered meals services in New York City is outrageous. You cannot streamline human services the same way that you can streamline the production of consumer goods. If any segment of our population deserves direct comprehensive services, it is the homebound elderly, who have the most to lose if this consolidation plan moves forward."

Assemblywoman Pheffer and Assemblyman Dinowitz recently cosponsored an Assembly Public Hearing on DFTA's consolidation proposal, where a great deal of opposition to the proposal was heard. "We have taken a major step forward today in protecting our seniors from the closure of local senior centers who provide essential social programming for seniors in our community. The plan being advanced by DFTA does too much, too fast, with little regard for the adverse effects it will have on seniors in New York City," said Pheffer.

The legislation has passed the Assembly; however no action has yet been taken by the Senate.

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