NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was growing alarm and plenty of fight among senior citizens Friday over plans to shut down more than one hundred senior centers in New York City.
Chanting “save our centers,” a couple hundred people staged a demonstration on the steps of City Hall to protest the cuts. Among the politicians at the rally was Councilman Lou Fidler, who summed up his feelings on the closures in one word: “nuts.”
“When government does things that are penny wise and pound foolish, that’s nuts,” he said. “We know that these centers aren’t just a place to go to play cards, they’re a vital link in the health and welfare of our seniors.”
Herbert Moore, 77, told 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks that the city’s senior centers were necessary for survival.
“Definitely is a life saver. Without the center…people just die,” Moore said.
Assemblywoman Annette Robinson told those gathered Friday at the Mayor’s doorsteps that seniors should not be confined to their homes.
“Senior citizens must live with dignity and respect and not in isolation,” Robinson said.
Meanwhile in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, seniors who spoke to CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown said thousands depended on the centers for food, friendship and fun.
“I called [Governor Andrew] Cuomo and I told him…if I was his grandmother would he throw me out in the street,” 62-year-old Janice Schiavo asked.
Residents have even launched a new letter campaign featuring seniors sending snapshots of themselves with moving messages asking what they would do if their centers were closed.
The final budget is due April 1st and includes painful cutbacks to millions of New Yorkers – from toddlers to teachers and beyond. If the cuts are passed, the centers would begin shutting down this summer.