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Vacca and Benjamin to Mayor: Keep centers open

Councilman James Vacca released the following statement in response to the final budget adoption and a published report indicating that the mayor now plans to turn his attention to modernizing senior centers:

“Facing a $190-million deficit, the Housing Authority insists it must close senior and community centers, despite the $18-million funding boost the Council provided this year. Compounding the crisis, the city now plans to undertake a ‘modernization’ of all 325 senior centers funded by the Department for the Aging, suggesting that ‘underutilized’ centers might be consolidated with others nearby.

“I am calling on Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA chairman Hernandez to rule out closing senior centers once and for all. They should send a message that we will not bankroll this city on the backs of the same people who spent their lives making it great ¯ and that when we say we respect our elders, we’re not just paying lip service to a voting bloc; we’re reflecting a firmly held principle that cannot be bargained away.”

Assemblyman Michael Benjamin announced his strong opposition to the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) decision to shut down all 59 Bronx senior and community centers located in public housing developments by July 1.

“The recent decision to close every Bronx senior center will have a devastating effect on our city,” Assemblyman Benjamin said. “It is unconscionable to deny these seniors a place to socialize and receive vital health screenings."

The centers are one of the few places that seniors can receive a cooked meal, meet with social workers to obtain needed services, socialize with their friends, cool off during the summer heat and receive health screenings.

The warning to close the senior centers was delivered by NYCHA officials at a City Council hearing least week, during which they detailed a $195 million deficit.

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