NYC Senior Centers At Mercy Of Statewide Budget Crunch

Elderly Residents Begin Write-In Campaign To CBS 2 News

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There is growing alarm among senior citizens in New York City over plans to shut down more than a 100 of the city’s senior centers.

CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reports on a new way those who depend on the centers are fighting back.

Like so many elderly New Yorkers, 62-year-old Janice Schiavo said she depends on her Bay Ridge senior center. But her refuge is now among 105 city centers slated to be shut down because of a statewide budget crunch.

RELATED: New Yorkers Protest Closure Of Corona Senior Center | New Yorkers Continue Fight To Keep Senior Centers Open | Community Leaders Join Forces To Fight Proposed Senior Center Closures

“I called Cuomo and I told him exactly if I was his grandmother would he throw me out in the street?” Schiavo told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.

Schiavo isn’t alone in her fury or her fear. Thousands of senior citizens depend on the centers for food, friendship and fun.

“No matter how old you are you like to dance! You’re not dead. We’re old but we’re not dead!” Bay Ridge resident Lydia Kennedy said.

One of the biggest concerns is hot meals served to senior citizens daily. If the cuts go as planned nearly 1,000 meals in Brooklyn alone would be in jeopardy.

Despite a series of heated protests in every borough, the cuts are still looming. There’s even a letter campaign, with some arriving at CBS 2 News. Those like Annie Dixon and Ruben Gonzalez sent a snapshot of themselves and their lives, with one saying, “I don’t know what I’ll do if my senior center is closed.”

“What am I gonna do? Just stay home and listen to tapes and DVDs? Take a walk?” Bay Ridge resident Anthony Faiella said.

The final budget is due April 1, and includes painful cutbacks to millions of New Yorkers — from toddlers to teachers and beyond.

But included in that is $25 million set aside specifically for senior citizens. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his hands are tied.

“We cannot make up for every cut that the federal government and the state government cuts,” the mayor said.

“We just worked very hard for a living and it’s not fair,” Fort Hamilton resident Rita Biamonte said in response.

But fair or not, these seniors fear they’ll be forced to find companionship elsewhere.

If the cuts are passed the centers would begin shutting down this summer.

Please offer your thoughts below.

  • Gail

    I have a great idea. Why don’t the seniors volunteer at schools. They could help children and eat the school lunch. Win Win situation.

  • pugphan

    It’s dejavu all over again, first cuomo sr. kicks out mental patients, and now his son does the same to us seniors. Wow! smokersodysseycom

  • Rocky

    Keep the RED HOOK center OPEN and don’t throw these people out in the streets, They are all old enough to be our moms and dads would the state throw there parents into the COLD

  • Lauren

    Joe, I think you are confusing nursing homes and senior centers. Senior centers are where seniors go for the day and get a hot lunch, play some games, dance or socialize and then they go home. These centers are important because for many seniors, it is the only hot meal they get in the day. They are also important because it means that seniors have a place to go during the day instead of being alone. These centers a vital for the elderly.

  • joe

    i worked in centers and i can tell you that the directors and employees receive big salarys when the do nothing when inspectors come in they are shown the membership of residents and some of these residents are dead and the directors inflat the number to get more money like parkside houses in the bronx the seniors hide their money in cash and cry for help they take advantage of the system and go to 2 or more centers to get meals and sign thier name showing members attending. they can afford food because i worked there and saw the corruption in front of me

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