Thompson Seeks Alternative To Closing NYCHA Senior Centers
City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. in a letter urged Department For The Aging (DFTA) Commissioner Edwin Mendez- Santiago to block plans of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to close numerous community and senior centers throughout the city.
Thompson noted that NYCHA, the largest landlord of indigent elderly in the city, "confronts substantial budget shortfalls and must make some extremely difficult choices".
However, Thompson continued, "These choices— largely necessitated by the federal government's reduced funding of public housing—must not be allowed to disproportionately impact our city's vulnerable seniors and displace community centers which serve the urgent needs of our city's youth."
Thompson also noted that the DFTA also may be closing a number of smaller senior centers and will establish centralized multi-service facilities in each borough.
He declared, "Unfortunately, closure of DFTA centers, combined with the shuttering of community and senior centers within NYCHA facilities would profoundly and negatively affect the delivery of critically important services for thousands of community residents."
Thompson said these closure threats "compel us to explore readily available opportunities to better use our resources". This would include, Thompson said, retail developments within NYCHA facilities that would raise much needed revenue as well as provide tenants with services that are often lacking.
Thompson closed by saying, "I also wish to express my concern about the lack of publicly disclosed information regarding NYCHA's and DFTA's announced intentions and the absence of any community impact studies. As I indicated, I believe these studies must include an examination of revenue generating offsets that could mitigate the effect of these closures."
Thompson added, "I urge in the strongest terms possible that there be no reduction in services until a comprehensive analysis is undertaken and ask that my office be provided with a copy of the analysis."
MARSHALL EYES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Borough President Helen Marshall reported that the current economic downturn and recession could result in increased numbers of domestic violence incidents. In announcing her recent conference on domestic violence, held last Thursday at York College, Marshall said that the latest statistics on violence, coupled with forecasts of dramatic job losses and the current economy, "do not bode well for the future".
In Queens, she said, the borough's residents account for 21 percent of the domestic violence cases in New York City. Last year, she reported, there were 230,000 incidents citywide, and the Domestic Violence Unit conducted more than 76,000 home visits.
"It's tragic that the leading cause of injuries to women is domestic violence committed by a spouse or partner," Marshall said.
Among the workshops held at last Thursday's conference was one on Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse. Last July, Marshall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown opened the second Family Justice Center in the city in Kew Gardens. Funded in part by her office, she said, it allows victims to access comprehensive services from domestic violence prosecutors and service providers under one roof.
Marshall's Task Force on Domestic Violence meets the last Wednesday of every month in Room 213 at Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens.