There are 1.1 million New Yorkers over the age of 62, making them eligible for many senior programs and benefits. This map shows the percentage of elderly population in each area, where the city's 345 senior centers are located, and the seven senior centers that will be shut down under the mayor's budget plan.
"The locations of senior centers are more historic than anything else," said Bobbie Sackman of the Council of Senior Centers and Services. "In the early 1970's the communities that organized themselves and found space are the ones that received the funding to open them."
Therefore, as the map shows some areas of the city (such as the Rockaways in Queens) with a higher percentage of the elderly have fewer senior centers than areas (such as the South Bronx) with a lower percentage of the elderly.
Facing a budget deficit, the city is closing centers that it says are underutilized and in neighborhoods that have another center nearby, a criteria that some advocates dispute.
"The area of Brooklyn where two centers are closing has one of the highest concentration of seniors in the city," said Sackman. "And just because there may be another center five blocks away does not mean people will be able to get to it. Physically they may not be able to get there, but also emotionally and culturally it can be a difficult transition."
The average person who uses a senior citizen center is 77 years old. Half of them live on a fixed income of less than $12,000 a year, and a third live alone. The number of people seeking services is also increasing. According to the 2000 census, New Yorkers over 85 comprise the fastest growing age group in the city.
The mayor's contingency plan, which he says will be implemented if the city does not get adequate funds from the state and federal government, would close an additional 15 centers.
The mayor and the City Council must negotiate a new budget by June 5, 2002.
The seven senior centers that would be closed:
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