Though the senior population of New York City is expected to reach an all-time high by 2030, the city plans to close as many as 50 senior centers this year and cut funding for other senior social programs.
The census figures for New York, on the other hand, indicate that there should be more senior centers and more programs for the elderly, not less.
Just look at Community Board 5, which encompasses Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics, 13.7 percent of the area’s population is 65 years of age and older. By contrast, just 6.5 percent of Board 5 residents are five years old and under.
Yet there are 23 day care centers—and just five senior centers—within Board 5’s confines (see map below). And this week, residents learned that the Department for the Aging (DFTA) wants to defund one of the handful of senior centers serving this area: the Glenridge Senior Center in Ridgewood.
The facility, on Summerfield Street near Forest Avenue, serves about 3,240 meals each month and is the second-largest senior center in the area.
Glenridge is housed in a former Masonic temple constructed in 1926 and built to last. The senior center had its beginnings in 1974 in the former Victorian Catering House on Myrtle Avenue near 67th Street in Glendale, where the local Social Security office stands today.
Conceived by two long-time Glendale residents, Susanna Simpson and Anne Hummell, and members of Board 5, the center provided a place where seniors could congregate, do some arts and crafts, get information on housing, health issues, take a few trips and get a hot meal.
It has continued to grow ever since, and from its current Summerfield Street location, it has become a fixture in the community, offering a wide variety of senior services including Meals on Wheels to the homebound.
But a dispute between the center’s management and the holding company that owns the building gave the DFTA—under orders to close senior centers to reduce its budget—enough reason to rescind its contract with Glenridge, a move that would result in the facility’s demise.
Even though the senior center and landlord have settled their spat, the DFTA insists that Glenridge remains on the chopping block.
The loss of Glenridge would leave many local seniors with nowhere to spend their day and enjoy warm meals and fun activities in the company of friends and neighbors alike.
Is this what the city has come to? Why must seniors be forced to compete against kids for the use of their tax dollars?
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