Seniors brace for cuts after Cuomo declines to amend budget language

By: Gloria Pazmino
Friday, 17 February 2017
Publication & Publisher: Politico New York


Thousands of senior citizens are facing the prospect of losing their senior centers after Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed to amend language in his $152.3 billion executive budget proposal, leaving in place a shift of funds that could result in the closing of facilities and a $17 million hole in the city’s budget.

Senior citizen advocates have been writing to Cuomo, urging the governor to change the budgetary language before the 30-day amendment period expired. Advocates want Cuomo to amend a proposal that would redirect funds from adult care to child care services, removing the flexibility the city has had in the past to allocate the funds at its own discretion.

POLITICO New York first reported the shifting of cash, found in an allocation for Title XX funds in the governor’s Aid to Localities bill.

The funds, also referred to as the Social Services Block Grant, are a capped entitlement program from the federal government. The proposal states that the funds will be used only for child care services — limiting the city’s flexibility in deciding how to spend the discretionary dollars.

Caryn Resnick, deputy commissioner for the Department of the Aging, said earlier this month the agency estimated the transfer would result in a $17 million cut to services that could force the city to shutting down at least 65 senior centers.

The closures would affect at least 6,000 seniors who would lose access to key services including meals, social activities, eviction assistance and help with health care.

Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy at LiveON NY, a senior citizen advocacy organization, said the group sent 13,800 letters from 104 senior centers around the city opposing the budgetary cut.

“We pulled out all the stops we cold and [the] governor ignored the seniors,” Sackman said. “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.”

A spokesperson for the governor did not return a request for comment.

“We are disappointed that thousands of New York City seniors remain at risk of losing vital services,” Rosemary Boeglin, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We are committed to working with state legislators to ensure that Title XX funding is restored in the enacted budget.

--additional reporting by Josefa Velasquez