Caseworkers and seniors from Sunnyside showed up at City Hall on Friday to demand the mayor restore funding to programs that benefit homebound seniors.
The service providers are worried that if the mayor’s proposed budget cuts pass, Queens seniors who are unable to leave their homes may not get the care they need.
To show solidarity with seniors, caseworkers from Sunnyside Community Services wore T-shirts with pictures of their homebound clients to a public hearing on the mayor’s executive budget for the Department for the Aging.
For fiscal year 2012, Bloomberg has proposed to reduce funding for senior case management programs by 30 percent — or around $6.6 million, according to SCS.Of the total 23 elderly case management service providers in the city, seven, including Sunnyside Community Services, are located in Queens.
“The need for elderly services will continue to grow in Queens. It is projected that there will be a 20 percent growth of the senior population between the ages of 65 and 69 in the next 10 years,” stated Kathy Fitzgibbons, senior policy analyst for Elderly Welfare at Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, a group of which SCS is a part. “Most pressingly, there are more than 270,000 impoverished seniors living in Queens, so it is extremely important that we preserve the capacity to serve low-income seniors.”
SCS serves 1,500 seniors in neighborhoods including Long Island City, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Glendale, Ridgewood and Corona.The majority of clients have multiple chronic illnesses and many of are age 80 and above.
“Money that is spent helping seniors remain independent drastically reduces expenses in the long-term because it reduces the amount spent on hospital costs and nursing homes,”said Judith Zangwill, executive director of Sunnyside Community Services. “Preserving these programs is not only the just and compassionate thing to do; it is also ultimately the best choice for the financial health of the city.” The mayor’s budget is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.