TESTIMONY: FY17 LiveOn NY Aging Budget

New York City Council

FY17 Aging Committee Budget Hearing

Council Member Margaret Chin, Chair

March 4, 2016


Testimony of Bobbie Sackman, Director of Public Policy, LiveOn NY


LiveOn NY and its members across the city are dedicated to making New York a better place to age. Founded in 1979, with a membership base of more than 100 organizations ranging from individual community‐based centers to large multi‐service organizations, LiveOn NY is recognized as a leader in aging.  LiveOn NY’s membership serves over 300,000 older New Yorkers annually and is comprised of organizations providing an array of community based services including elder abuse prevention and victims’ services, case management for homebound seniors, multi‐service senior centers, congregate and home‐delivered meals, affordable senior housing with services, caregiver support services, mental health, transportation, NORCs and other services intended to support older New Yorkers.  LiveOn NY connects resources, advocates for positive change, and builds, supports and fosters innovation. Our goal is to help all New Yorkers age with confidence, grace and vitality.  LiveOn NY also advocates for meaningful policy that promotes livable communities and allows older adults to safely age in place.

LiveOn NY thanks Council Margaret Chin, Chair, Committee on Aging, and Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair, Subcommittee on Senior Centers for their leadership.

 LiveOn NY appreciates the opportunity to testify today.  Please see our FY17 attached budget priorities totaling $34.3 million for Department for the Aging (DFTA) funded services.  Each of these programs included is a critical piece of the continuum of services needed to allow older adults to remain in their homes and communities and to also support family caregivers. LiveOn NY documented that over 200,000 older New Yorkers are waiting an average of 7 years for an affordable apartment. It is many of these same seniors that are waiting for social services to support them in the community as they age.

 LiveOn NY is grateful for City Council’s FY16 allocation of additional funding last year including case management, home care, elder abuse, NORCs, adult day services, 6th congregate meals, senior center rent and transportation.  

LiveOn NY also appreciates the de Blasio Administration’s allocation of $1.4 million funding for mental health services in senior centers in the FY16 budget and $1.8 million in the FY17 preliminary budget for friendly visiting services as part of ThriveNYC. However, to date, it is our understanding, none of $1.4 million allocated in FY16 for senior centers has been spent. LiveOn NY welcomes the discussion of how to continue to address the mental health needs of older New Yorkers by including older adults in parts of the ThriveNYC plan where they aren’t currently targeted.

 LiveOn NY also applauds the de Blasio Administration for baselining $2.8 million for elder abuse services and for the first time, funding the Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT) model at $1.5 million.

That being said, there is still a rising unmet need for community based services for older New Yorkers.  The Preliminary Budget added little new funding to the Department for the Aging’s budget.  A large amount of funding was not baselined, and funding was not included for case management, home care, congregate and

 home-delivered meal costs, adult day services and other core programs. This will lead to waiting lists for some services.

LiveOn NY’s FAIR SHARE BUDGET CAMPAIGN – City funding for aging services does not reflect a fair share based on the rapidly growing older adult population, supports needed to allow them to age well in their homes and communities, and support for family caregivers. According to Webster, the definition of “progressive” is change, improvement or reform as opposed to maintaining things as they are on a political level, and on the community level, progressing towards better conditions for its residents. Given waiting lists for services and chronically underfunded services and salaries, it is clear that the city’s aging policy has work to do to be more progressive on behalf of older New Yorkers.

The $34.3 million budget priorities for FY17 reflect community supports for all older New Yorkers addressing:

  • Senior nutrition/anti-hunger programs
  • Affordable senior housing supports
  • Economic security - access to benefits
  • Elder abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Supporting family caregivers
  • Culturally competent neighborhood based services

FY17 budget priorities

  • Case Management - $3 million (new money) – It is troubling that the Mayor’s preliminary budget did not baseline case management and home care funds. Without baselining, it is difficult to hire case management staff. This leads to higher waiting lists and huge staff turnover. Additional funding is needed to ensure that caseloads don’t go higher than 65. Funding is also needed to serve frail, homebound seniors on waiting lists so that a social worker is available to visit them at home, assess their needs and provide ongoing services. MSW compensation level needs to be funded to ensure there is a professionally trained social worker who can work with immigrant and diverse populations and complex situations. Funding should allow agencies to hire supervisors, who both oversee hundreds of cases and carry a partial caseload.  Funding growing need and agency infrastructure are cornerstones to strengthening the case management system citywide.   To that end, LiveOn NY would also like to move forward a campaign on securing compensation parity for the Case Management system.  Please see attached sheet for more details.
  • Per meal reimbursement – $3.3 million –would add 25 cents more per meal plus additional funds for kosher home-delivered meals.
  • NORCS - $4 million – Thank you for funding NORCs at $2.5 million for NORCs to fund NORC programs that weren’t able to apply for DFTA’s RFP, plus some additional neighborhood NORCs.  Please fund $4.0 million to maintain and grow existing NORCs.
  • Elder Abuse Victims Assistance - $3.0 million – Last year, both City Council and the Administration recognized the hidden crisis of elder abuse by allocating funding. City Council continued funding for pilot programs to four organizations that work with domestic violence in immigrant communities. This funding should be renewed to allow these services and the new pilot to continue. Through the DFTA RFP, the administration added $2 million for elder abuse victims assistance, which was baselined. Four organizations were awarded 3-year contracts that began July 1, 2015.
  •  Adult Day Services - $2.3 million – Given the demographics of who is aging in NYC, calling for a system of universal adult day care through the neighborhoods of NYC is good public policy. Seniors with Alzheimer’s/dementia or other disabilities would benefit from being in a safe and therapeutic environment during the day. This would allow adult daughters, sons and spouses to remain in the workforce and take care of other parts of their life. While $2.3 million wouldn’t fund a universal system, it would at least get us back to where we were 7-8 years ago. Imagine how far behind the city is. Funding subsidizes the older adults to be able to attend the program on a regular basis. Original funding was at $2.3 million. We appreciate that City Council allocated $950,000, but this money was not baselined. $2.3 million would allow social adult day care to come back to its original funding level and meet growing need.  Access to affordable elder care is the workforce issue of the 21st century, especially for women.
  • 6th weekend congregate meal - $600,000 – Thank you to City Council for the funding in FY16 to reinstate this program which was eliminated under the former administration.  Senior centers across the city have opted in to provide one additional takeaway meal on Fridays for the weekend.  Please continue this funding.
  • Senior center rent (space) - $1.1 million – This funding is for senior centers paying more than 20% of their budget in rent. Please continue this funding.
  • Transportation - $2 million – We are asking for $2 million to bring transportation up to the original $4million level.
  • Innovative Senior Centers in Immigrant Communities - $2 million – There are currently 16 funded Innovative Senior Centers (ISCs) citywide serving a variety of communities. About 25% of them operate in communities with heavy immigrant populations. The remainder serve immigrants, but the participants are not predominantly immigrants.  The original ISC proposal developed by LiveOn NY included targeting underserved populations such as immigrants.
  • Caregiver supports and respite - $3 million – Establish city funding to support caregivers. Access to affordable elder care and support for caregivers are the workforce issues, especially for women, of the 21st century. Caregivers statewide provide $32 billion of free care to loved ones. Workplace flexibility and caregiver supports go hand in hand. We need to end “secret caregiving” where thousands of women have to juggle work and caregiving responsibilities.
  • ESL/Citizenship Classes at senior centers - $1 million – Re-establish the ESL/Citizenship program eliminated in 2003.  Learning in English allows elderly immigrants to engage in their local community and receive services. It brings them out of isolation and into a peer community. This could also include cultural competency training.
  • Social workers in senior centers and Section 202/affordable senior buildings - $9 million – Senior centers and senior buildings are on the frontlines of serving thousands of elderly immigrants and other diverse populations citywide. Developing broad access to social work services will help older adults receive benefits, address grief and counseling issues, social isolation, crisis intervention and other issues that is culturally competent. MSW compensation level needs to be funded to ensure there is a professionally trained social worker who can work with immigrant and diverse populations. $8 million could fund half of the neighborhood senior centers. $1 million would fund social workers/service coordinators in Section 202 buildings/affordable senior buildings to pilot the efficacy of having service coordinators. An evaluation would be included to document the cost savings to the city that senior housing with services would bring. In order to hire and retain social workers, these funds must be baselined. This would support Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan by including supportive services as seniors age in place. Mayor de Blasio announced he would provide 10,000 affordable senior housing apartments. LiveOn NY’s waiting list survey has documented over 200,000 low income seniors waiting an average of 7 years for an apartment.

 For more detailed information, please see the following attachments:

  • Budget Priorities Chart
  • Case Management Waitlist Chart
  • Compensation Parity for Case Managers Funding through NYC Department for the Aging document
  • Affordable Senior Housing Waitlist Information

 LiveOn NY looks forward to working with City Council and the administration to ensure that older New Yorkers can remain in their homes and communities through a network of support services designed to meet the needs of a diverse and rapidly growing older adult population. Please contact Bobbie Sackman, Director of Public Policy, 212-398-6565 x226, bsackman@liveon-ny.org or Andrea Cianfrani, Deputy Director of Public Policy, x233, acianfrani@liveon-ny.org for further information.