Posted by Nashla Rivas Salas, March 24, 2011
The Governor’s Executive Budget proposes a change in the use of federal funds that could result in the closure of 105 senior centers administered by the city’s Department for the Aging (DFTA). This change would affect approximately 8,000-10,000 seniors citywide, leaving them in some cases with no other center nearby.
IBO mapped how far each of the senior centers at risk of being closed is from the nearest center remaining open. Fifteen of the 105 senior centers have no other center within a mile radius. Eight of these fifteen are located in Queens, two in Brooklyn, two in the Bronx and three in Staten Island. A list of the centers is available here.
The Governor’s budget proposes to eliminate the discretionary portion of the Social Services Block Grant (Title XX), and instead require that the entire block grant be spent for child welfare services. The city has traditionally used its annual discretionary Title XX allocation of $24 million to fund a significant number of its senior centers. Unless other funding is allocated to make up its portion of the block grant, DFTA has said it will be forced to close centers. In deciding which centers would close if the state plan is implemented, city officials have said that they chose to spread the cuts as equally as possible across community districts. But senior centers are not spread evenly across the city and some communities have multiple centers. As a result, those districts with more centers were more likely to have centers selected for closing.
Currently the city contracts with 256 senior centers. If the state budget is approved next month with the elimination of the discretionary portion of Title XX, the city will be left with about 150 centers, a significant reduction in services to a vulnerable population.