New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos
This website is maintained for historical purposes.
Ben Kallos is no longer a candidate for Manhattan Borough President or any other office.

Council Candidate Kallos Stands Against Cuts to Senior Services at NYCHA

COUNCIL CANDIDATE KALLOS STANDS

AGAINST CUTS TO SENIOR SERVICES AT NYCHA

“Cuts to Senior Centers now will only cost the City $136,200 for each

senior that will lose their independence,” in the Kallos

 

New York, N.Y. – Yesterday, Council Candidate Ben Kallos joined seniors, NYCHA residents and members of AFSCME Local 371, offering testimony to rethink cuts to senior services for NYCHA before the City Council Committee on Public Housing. Kallos, whose district encompasses the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island where Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Towers have a NYCHA Senior Center, urged the City Council to help NYCHA keep senior centers well staffed and well funded as the agency faces a $205 million shortfall as the result of federal sequestration.

 

The 329 senior centers across New York City provide vital services, including meals, health screenings, exercise and a crucial sense of community outside the home. According to the Food Bank for New York City, 1 in 4 (28%) seniors experience difficulty affording food, 1 in 5 (18%) seniors lives below the federal poverty level, and approximately 1 in 6 elderly New Yorkers (nearly 154,000) receive food from soup kitchens and food pantries.

 

“My mother is a senior battling Parkinson’s Disease on the Upper East Side, so the importance of good services for our growing senior population is personal for me,” said Kallos. “Our senior centers are crucial for the quality of life of low-income elderly people, and save many from requiring home health aides or nursing homes. Keeping our senior centers robust will ultimately save the city money on Medicaid – and it is the right thing to do.”

 

Affordable housing and strong public health services for seniors are vital parts of Kallos’ platform. He joins with AFSCME Local 371 and those with seniors as loved ones across the city to request that the City Council work with NYCHA to keep senior centers open and strong.

 

Kallos is the only candidate in his race with a senior parent living in the district and has been the Executive Director of a leading good government group, entrepreneur, attorney, Chief of Staff for Assembly Member Jonathan Bing  and the Policy Director to former Public Advocate Mark Green.  Learn more about his run for City Council District 5 at http://KallosForCouncil.com.

 

NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC HOUSING HEARING

Testimony on the Impact of NYCHA Cuts to Senior Centers by Council Candidate Ben Kallos

June 13, 2013

 

My name is Benjamin Kallos and I am running for City Council to represent the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island where Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Towers have a NYCHA Senior Center, which must not be closed.  There are over one million seniors living in New York City, including my mother, so please forgive me for my strong testimony, but for me this is personal.  As baby boomers enter old age, this number will grow significantly.  We must care for our seniors just as they once cared for us so that we could get to where we are sitting now.  It is the cycle of life and it is what is right.  I join AFSCME Local 371 and others here in arguing that we must not close our Senior Centers and that these services must not only be well-staffed but well-funded.

 

Among other vital  services, 329 senior centers in NYC provide lunch and, in some cases, breakfast to seniors, totalling 12.4 million meals each year.[i]  According to the Food Bank for New York City, 1 in 4 (28%) seniors experience difficulty affording food, 1 in 5 (18%) seniors lives below the federal poverty level, and approximately 1 in 6 elderly New Yorkers (nearly 154,000) receive food from soup kitchens and food pantries.[ii]  These numbers demonstrate how critical Senior Centers are for those who cannot afford the rising cost of groceries on a fixed income and those who struggle to cook. 

 

Beyond providing healthy meals, these centers also provide opportunities for seniors to regularly exercise and receive health screenings, including blood pressure, cancer, mammography, vision, and hearing tests. 

 

Finally, senior centers create a community, and can provide some seniors’ only opportunity to socialize outside their home and family.

 

The reality is, unless you are caring for a senior personally, it is difficult to imagine the importance of these services.  Reflect for a moment.  Without senior centers, elderly New Yorkers would have to:

·       Find soup kitchens or other food programs or go hungry;

·       Join a gym with programs for seniors or grow weak as muscle atrophy from lack of activity and exercise gradually losing their independence;

·       Find free medical screening and treatment services on their own or risk costly emergency room and hospital visits to treat problems that could have been prevented;

·       Find affordable, accessible, and reliable transportation to activities, social and medical services they need increasing the burden on Access-A-Ride;

·       Find another agency that can help secure benefits, services and entitlements or struggle without available Federal and State funding that would alleviate a burden on our City;

 

Without centers to support seniors who are currently living as independently as possible we will see a large increase in the number of seniors who require home health aides and will require full time nursing care sooner than they otherwise would.  At an average cost of $136,200 per year for nursing care in New York City, if just 1,500 seniors currently receiving services from centers end up in nursing homes, all cost savings from the proposed $205 million cut will be eradicated with higher nursing home Medicaid costs for years to come that we won’t be able to cut.

 

I understand NYCHA faces an enormous shortfall, $205 million, as a result of the federal sequester.  Yet I urge the City Council to help NYCHA bear this burden. Doing so will save our City money, for years to come.  I thank the committee for their time, and again urge you not invest in nursing homes but instead invest in centers that support independent living for our City’s seniors.

 

###

 

[i] Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., “Audit Report on the Administration of Imprest Funds by the Department for the Aging,” June 13, 2007, Office of the Comptroller, Bureau of Management Audit, City of New York available at http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/audit/PDF_FILES/MD07_057A.pdf

[ii] Food Bank for New York City, “Who We Help,” New York City, last access June 12, 2013 available at http://www.foodbanknyc.org/food-poverty-in-nyc/who-we-help