The following testimony was provided by LiveOn NY staff at the Department for the Aging (DFTA) Annual Plan Hearing in each borough. Thank you to the following organizations for hosting hearings on the Annual Plan:
BronxWorks Innovative Senior Center
Fort Greene Albany Senior Center
Carter Burden Leonard Covello Senior Center
JCC of Staten Island
Sunnyside Community Neighborhood Senior Center
New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA)
2018-2019 Annual Plan Summary
With a base of more than 100 organizations serving 300,000 older New Yorkers annually, LiveOn NY’s members provide core community services to older adults. Thank you to Commissioner Corrado for your leadership.
LiveOn NY also administers a citywide outreach program and staffs a hotline that educates, screens and helps with benefit enrollment including SNAP, SCRIE and others, and also administers the Rights and Information for Senior Empowerment (RISE) program to bring critical information directly to seniors on important topics to help them age well in their communities.
Driving community resilience are senior service organizations serving over 55,000 seniors daily, including thousands of immigrants, who provide safe, culturally sensitive and user friendly programming, whether in the home or the community. These services are creating opportunities and positively affecting health outcomes for older New Yorkers.
In order for New York to be a fair city for all ages, the DFTA service system must be financially supported at levels reflective of the needs it serves. At a time of historical demographic increases for the aging population, the DFTA budget is well under 1% of the city budget. While we are pleased to see DFTA has issued its Plan 2025, those ideas must be supported with, specific financial investments that demonstrates New York’s commitment to make the city a fairer and better place to age.
With a collaborative spirit and mindset, we strongly urge the city to think critically with us about continued innovation and investments for quality senior services. While LiveOn will be putting forth specific priorities in the upcoming months, some areas we will focus on include:
Addressing Senior Hunger. Senior centers will provide nearly 9 million meals this year, with over half of seniors saying that these meals are over 50% of their daily food intake. Further, providers will distribute 4.6 million home delivered meals. The majority of seniors utilizing the program are women, living alone, receiving meals that on average account for ½ or more of their total food for the day. That said, New York City spends 20% below the national average on senior meals – that means they are only paying for 4 out of every 5 needed meals and providers are forced to pick up the extra cost. Further, senior centers were not allowed to use “model budget” money last year on meals or kitchen staff, who we all know are so valuable to the center. The city must make meaningful investments to address senior hunger and fully pay providers for this work.
Support services in senior housing. We applaud the de Blasio Administration for making strong investments in the production of affordable senior housing through its housing plan and Seniors First Initiative. LiveOn NY has long advocated for a funding for service coordinators in senior housing buildings to support seniors in the building and community and will continue to work with city leaders on this issue.
Increased funding for all senior centers, including NYHCA programs. Last year, the city made an initial investment of $10 million for staffing and programming at some senior centers, and promised an additional $10 million by 2021. We will advocate for increased investments for all centers for staff, programming and also for infrastructure and other center costs, particularly for programs located in NYCHA facilities, as well as for senior centers who are already beyond capacity and who are seeing a sharp increase in the demand for services in communities with growing populations.
Support the Aging Workforce and Human Services Sector. While we applaud increases in salaries to case managers and some senior center staff in recent years, in order to attract and retain highly qualified staff, DFTA must address salaries across its entire portfolio of services. This will strengthen our system as a whole and we look forward to working on this issue collaboratively. We also strongly support the call for structural investments in the entire human service sector.
By investing in all DFTA senior services, we are certain that the aging services system will be strengthened to serve older adults and harness the momentum aging can bring, and will make NYC truly a fair city across the lifespan. LiveOn NY looks forward to working with DFTA, City Council and the Administration to make New York a better place to age.