Legislators celebrate senior center victory

April 7, 2011 Heather Chin
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The fight to save senior centers from the state budget axe cameto Bay Ridge two months ago when State Senator Martin Golden andAssemblymember Nicole Malliotakis told the nearly 100 seniorcitizens gathered at the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults (BRCOA)that they had allies in Albany.

That scene was reenacted last Friday afternoon when Golden andMalliotakis again visited BRCOA, 411 Ovington Avenue. This timethey were triumphant: full state and federal funding of $22.5million for the city’s senior services had been restored.

Congratulations to our seniors and throughout the fiveboroughs. We did it. The message to save Title XX funding so tokeep open our senior centers was heard loud and clear in Albany,said Golden to the assembled seniors. The phone calls, thepetitions, the letters worked. Trust me, this was a fight that Iwas not going to lose on behalf of the senior citizens of mydistrict.

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Assemblymember William Colton, whose district has a large seniorpopulation, many of whom attend the Moose Lodge Senior Center at7711 18th Avenue and the House of Jacob Sephardic Multi-ServiceSenior Center at 6222 23rd Avenue, shared the sentiment.

New York City senior centers play a key role in improving thelives of seniors in communities throughout the city, keeping ourgolden population active, healthy and nutritiously fed, saidColton. We have three senior centers in this area that [residents]depend on and it would have been a terrible injustice to closethem. We had a lot of tough decisions in this budget, butprotecting the quality of life for our seniors is absolutelyvital.

Assemblymember Peter Abbate, who also represents portions ofBensonhurst, agreed. I’m glad that we were able to save the BoroPark Senior Center and the Moose Lodge, he said. People don’talways realize just how important a service these centers provide,but seniors living on a fixed income rely on the centers. Seniorshelped make this country the place it is today, and I’m glad togive back to them.

The original budget had called for 105 senior centers to beclosed in New York City, 31 in Brooklyn alone. For many, though,this victory is only the first step in a continued battle.

While the restoration of Title XX funding was an importantvictory for local seniors and their advocates, the responsibilitynow falls on the mayor to do right by our senior citizens, saidMalliotakis at BRCOA. Without this funding, dozens of our seniorcenters will be forced to close, leaving countless local residentswithout the vital programs and services these organizationsprovide.

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo restored funding to seniors inhis 2011-2012 Executive Budget, it is now up to Mayor MichaelBloomberg to use that funding for its intended purpose.

Having spent their entire lives paying taxes and building ourcommunity, our seniors have earned the services these seniorcenters provide, said Malliotakis. Mayor Bloomberg has made itclear that this money was necessary to keep our senior centersopen. Among the centers currently slated for closure are the BayRidge Center for Older Adults and the Fort Hamilton Senior Centerin Bay Ridge. I urge the mayor to use this funding for its intendedpurpose and prevent any senior centers across the city from closingtheir doors.

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