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The governor’s proposal to slash $27 million from senior centers across the state would devastate the borough’s growing elderly population, according to an administrator at a Jamaica facility that was nearly put on the chopping block last year.
Carol Hunt, the executive director of the Jamaica Service Program, said she does not know how the cuts would directly affect her senior centers, including the Friendship Center at 92-33 170th St., because most of the money comes from the city. Nevertheless, she said she was concerned about the large cuts because more seniors are coming to the senior centers in southeast Queens for their services.
“As far as I am concerned, funds to needy populations should always be preserved,” she said. “If they are not going to do it, who is going to do it? I feel this is their responsibility.”
The city Department for the Aging said 110 senior centers across the five boroughs would be affected by the cuts.
In his budget meeting with the state Assembly Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also stressed the need for funding to senior centers. Bloomberg said he understood Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hard budget decisions but stressed that the cuts could have long-term effects on the city’s most vulnerable population.
“We can have the spending reduction the governor wants and needs — but if we want to preserve the economic engine of our state, if we want to put our kids and seniors first, if we want to protect services to the neediest and continue investing in our future — then we need the tools to spend money based on those priorities, not based on antiquated state mandates,” he said in his remarks.
Last month, the DFTA canceled its plans to close the Friendship Center but intends to cut 50 percent of its budget in the start of the new fiscal year in July. A large protest was held outside the center in December when the facility was on the verge of closing and Hunt said she would be traveling to Albany to make her case in the near future.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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