Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The $132.5 billion tentative budget deal in Albany outraged Mayor Michael Bloomberg – but it’s not upsetting everyone. Elderly New Yorkers and their advocates are celebrating the allocation of funding for city senior centers.
The agreement calls for restoring $25 million in Title 20 funding that Cuomo wanted to cut in his earlier proposal. The city had said more than 100 senior centers or 41 percent would have had to close by the summer if the cut had gone through.
Bobbie Sackman with the Council of Senior Centers and Services says after two years of fighting to keep these resources, maybe politicians will take heed: "I think Albany should take this message and say you know what? Yes, there are sacred cows and there’s senior centers and the 1000s of older New Yorkers they serve because without these centers, people have no where to go."
Sackman said seniors visit centers not only for a daily hot meal but for other kinds of programs that ensure good heath—including cultivating a vital social life.
The closings would have affected an estimated 8,000 seniors.
Senior centers may not be threatened in the next budget year but Bloomberg's city budget proposes millions of dollars in cuts to elderly services such as case management and other programs. Advocates are now waiting to see whether those go into effect.