We’re all for finding something to cut in the rapidly growing city budget, which under Mayor de Blasio has consistently gone up each year far above the rate of inflation.
But his idea of saving a mere $800,000 by closing down 12 senior centers and clubs, including four in Queens, doesn’t make much sense. First off the savings would be so miniscule they’re laughable: a little under nine 10 thousandths of a percent of de Blasio’s proposed $92.5 billion spending plan. In digits, that’s 0.00086 percent of $92,500,000,000.
For that money, de Blasio would disrupt the lives of who knows how many seniors, and has already angered four City Council members in Queens alone, including three who serve on the budget negotiating team. That doesn’t sound like very smart politics.
De Blasio wants to shutter senior centers or clubs at the Baisley Park Houses and Shelton Houses in Jamaica; the Bland Houses in Flushing; and the Astoria Houses. Here’s another funny part about the money: The Astoria Houses center is in the midst of a $500,000 upgrade. The next move is to close it?
The New York City Housing Authority would bus seniors to nearby centers under the mayor’s plan.
As state Sen. Mike Gianaris noted, seniors at the Astoria Houses were excited to visit the upgraded center and are now despairing that they’ll instead be bused to an unfamiliar one nearly two miles away.
The city claims the centers and clubs it would close are underutilized. But as Councilwoman Adrienne Adams of Jamaica pointed out, if true, that may be because they have been neglected for so long, like so much else in NYCHA buildings. It’s kind of like the way the prior administration stripped Jamaica High School of countless resources just prior to closing it, making sure its last classes suffered needlessly.
Then there’s the law of unintended consequences. Councilman Peter Koo warns that if Bland Houses seniors are bused to the center planned for them, “cultural clashes” over food and language are possible.
This closure of senior clubs and centers seems like a really poor plan that should be dropped. Along with the one to move inmates off Rikers Island. And the one in which de Blasio is a candidate for president.