FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
June 20, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
Department for the Aging to Take Control of Newly Renovated Facility from NYCHA
For photos of this announcement, click here.
Astoria, NY — Community leaders and elected officials today announced that the Astoria Houses Senior Center will remain open after proposed budget cuts threatened to shutter the facility, where a $500,000 renovation is just completing. Thanks to advocacy from local leaders, the center will continue to provide warm meals and socialization for the complex’s elderly residents.
Earlier this year, the de Blasio administration threatened to close the center along with 11 other such facilities operated by the New York City Housing Authority. Astoria Houses seniors instead would have been bused to the Queensbridge Houses senior center — located almost two miles away. The new Fiscal Year 2020 budget, however, transfers control of the center to the Department for the Aging with City Council support.
“Today, we can celebrate both the opening of the renovated senior center, which will be able to hold more people, as well as its continued service to this community,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “Though these cuts should not have been proposed in the first place, but the City Council made sure these seniors wouldn’t have to get on a bus and travel down cramped streets for basic services. This wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson or Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. I want to thank the Astoria Houses community, led by Claudia Coger, and government partners including Senator Michael Gianaris for joining us in this fight.”
“The City Council is committed to protecting all of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and that is why we fought hard during the budget negotiations to reverse the administration’s proposal to close the Astoria Houses Senior Center,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “This senior center offers vital services to our seniors, and we need to ensure we keep providing them with these services. As part of the agreement, the Department of the Aging will operate this senior center to better address the needs of the seniors close to their own homes. For Fiscal 2020, we are also dedicating $10 million, which will increase to $15 million for next fiscal year, to improve senior center meals and provide better wages for kitchen staff. I applaud Council Members Costa Constantinides and Daniel Dromm, Chair of our Finance Committee, community leaders and all those involve in this fight for their advocacy and relentless work to keep this senior center open.”
“Seniors rely on this center for hot meals and recreation but even more importantly to foster a sense of community we cannot put a price on,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I am thrilled that, by working together and with the support of our community, we were able to save this critical center. I thank Council Member Costa Constantinides for his efforts and Tenants Association President Claudia Coger for her relentless advocacy.”
“This is a big victory for our community as the seniors will not be uprooted and can stay at the Astoria Houses Senior Center” said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan. “I would like to thank my colleagues in government including Councilman Constantinides, TA President Claudia Coger and the many residents of the Astoria houses for advocating to keep this center open. A big thanks to the city for listening to our community and doing the right thing for our seniors.”
The Astoria Houses Senior Center received $500,000 under the Astoria Cove rezoning in 2014 for upgrades and expansion. Until renovations were completed, seniors have met in a smaller space. The new facility will provide more room for seniors to talk, play games, and enjoy what is for many their only hot meal of the day.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.