The Administration has proposed significant cuts to senior centers for next year, totaling $22 million. This 16 percent decrease from this year’s funding will further stress centers that are already struggling. At the same time, the administration is proposing moving forward with new, “innovative” senior centers at a cost of nearly $4 million.

While we support the idea of our city’s senior centers evolving and bringing them into the 21st century, we must also ensure that funding for the existing system is enough to sustain them.

The City Council appreciates the need for fiscal responsibility, and we are not advocating for keeping poorly-operating centers open. That is why last year, we worked together with the Administration to identify and close underperforming and underutilized centers. This was an important and necessary effort at improving the operation of the city’s centers and ensuring they provide the best, most efficient services possible. Moving forward with a plan that funds ten new centers while underfunding all others diminishes that work.

New York’s aging population depends on centers for food, access to vital city services and a basic sense of community. In addition, case management faces a 30 percent cut. This program provides a vital link between thousands of seniors and the outside world; for many of them, they depend on their case managers for basic survival. The drastic cuts that are being proposed to both centers and other programs would affect tens of thousands of seniors citywide.

Now is the time for us to focus our efforts on ensuring that the most basic, vital services are protected and that we are meeting the needs of elderly New Yorkers.