2010-03-17 / Features

Marshall Warns Budget Cuts May Close 100 Senior Centers

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Pictured are Councilmember Dan Halloran, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmembers Peter Koo, Jessica Lappin and Speaker Christine Quinn at microphone. Pictured are Councilmember Dan Halloran, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmembers Peter Koo, Jessica Lappin and Speaker Christine Quinn at microphone. Possibly 100 senior centers throughout the city might be closed if proposed state and city budget cuts go through, Queens officials have warned.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Councilmembers Dan Halloran and Peter Koo, both Republicans, issued the warnings about the closings following a hearing at City Hall last week.

Marshall said in a statement that the largest seniors funding cut looming is the recent move by the State of New York to eliminate $25 million in federal funding support for senior centers which could affect up to 75 centers across the city.

Marshall also warned, “Another $9.2 million for senior services will be in jeopardy in the city’s contingency plan if the state’s bid to end revenue sharing is implemented.”

If that move goes through, she warned, another 15 centers could be closing. It would also result in the elimination of services for 2,000 homebound clients and a reduction of 10 percent of the 17,500 home-delivered meals for homebound clients.

Marshall cited one other possible funding cut, from the city budget this time, which could force six centers in Queens to close.

The borough president identified the endangered centers as Kew Gardens, Forest Park, SAGE/Queens, Korean American, Bell Park and Lefrak.

Testifying at a council Committee on Aging hearing last Tuesday, Marshall said somberly, “It is not sound government policy to tell a homebound senior who receives a hot, nutritious meal on June 30 that they will not eat on July 1.”

The present budget year ends on June 30 and next year’s budget starts on July 1.

Marshall said Queens is home to more than 374,000 persons over the age of 60.

Also at City Hall last Tuesday, Halloran (R–C, Whitestone) charged, “The governor plans to divert $25.2 million in federal funds from the Department of Aging, which may force the closure of up to 100 senior centers citywide.”

Halloran said Albany has been “spending beyond its means, but cutting funding for seniors is not the answer”.

Koo (R–C, Flushing) stated: “Government has a duty and responsibility to find other ways to trim down the budget rather than reducing the $25.2 million in” federal funding.

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