May 10, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Local politicians are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to cancel the city’s plan to close the senior center at NYCHA’s Astoria Houses.
Council Member Costa Constantinides and State Senator Mike Gianaris announced at a press conference Thursday that they had sent a joint letter to the Mayor urging him to restore the funding for the Astoria Houses Senior Center that he plans to cut from the City’s 2020 fiscal budget. They also questioned his commitment to NYCHA residents.
“This proposal is not only of detrimental impact to seniors in our community but indicative of the larger disinvestment from NYCHA at a time when New York’s public housing requires more, not fewer, resources,” the letter says.
The letter states that the closure of the senior center, located at 4-05 Astoria Boulevard, would lead to $500,000 being wasted. Constantinides allocated $500,000 in 2014 to renovate the space, which will be completed next month.
The closure would be one of 12 senior centers serving NYCHA residents that the Mayor would close as a way to save $900,000 in City’s 2020 fiscal budget.
De Blasio said that these senior centers, which offer programs such as a daily hot meal, education programming, and health services, were underutilized and that some of them were not up to health and safety standards.
The City plans to transport the seniors that use the Astoria Houses Senior Center to a nearby center in Queensbridge.
The mayor’s office said the policy is cost effective and that seniors would still have access to a quality center. Furthermore, transportation to the new center would be free.
Constantinides, among other local officials, does not think this is an acceptable solution.
“Instead of paying for buses to another center almost two miles away, I ask the administration keep this center open to not disrupt the daily lives of Astoria Houses seniors.”
Assembly Member Catherine Nolan also wrote a letter to the Mayor asking him to reconsider the closures.
“How can this closure happen?” the letter asks. “It’s wrong and violates prior policy and agency agreements. I ask that your administration take a step back, listen and engage with our local community leaders and figure out a better path forward.”
— Costa Constantinides (@Costa4NY) May 9, 2019