That gasp that arose from the Borough of Queens on Thursday, March 3 was the collective discontent of thousands of senior citizens, their friends, families and elected representatives over the list of senior centers to be axed.
Twenty-two centers are slated to be closed as early as April 1. Some of the biggest and oldest in Queens are on the seemingly-random list.
Our seniors are our most vulnerable citizens. They need centers to gather at for companionship, entertainment, sustenance and joy. If the governor goes forward and reallocates the $66 million in federal Title XX funds, it means that the senior centers will lose all of the $24 million of those funds that go directly to pay their costs.
While we applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempts to close the budget gaps without new taxation, we feel doing it on the backs of our elderly and infirm is just plain wrong. In effect Cuomo is "kicking our seniors to the curb!"
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said of the cuts, “Our senior centers are a lifeline for thousands of seniors across this city. Last year we fought and won restorations to Title XX to keep senior centers in our community open and I am committed to doing so again in this year’s state budget.”
Over and over, each elected official warned that these closures are patently unacceptable and cited compelling reasons for the center(s) targeted to close from their districts to stay open.
It is their job to make sure our seniors have a place to go.
Closing 19 centers in Queens is not the answer. The transfer of so many seniors to other area centers is not the answer. That will only serve to create shortages of funds, food and space in the remaining centers.
It is our job to support our politicians’ efforts to reverse this horrible idea.
Send your State Senators, Assemblymembers and City Councilmembers an email or letter or call their offices and give them your support in their $24 million quest to restore funding for all of the city’s senior centers that are in peril.