Aging & Seniors
Last updated January 23, 2014
Today New York City is home to around one million adults age 6 and over. In the 2013 electoral cycle in New York voters age 50 and over represented a little more than half of the voting population.
Seniors are faced with daily challenges such as aging, health, affordable housing, transportation, quality of life, and cost of living. As a result of the economic recession and the expected increase of individuals over the age of 65, the number of older adults facing financial insecurity is on the rise. 1 in 3 New Yorkers over the age of 65 suffer from poverty. Over 40% of older adults attending senior centers have annual household incomes of less than $10,000 and 90% have annual household incomes of less than $30,000. These conditions are especially prevalent among minority populations. High poverty rates among seniors can be attributed in part to the fixed or declining income of older adults, all while cost of living increases for the general population and especially for older adults given some of the age-specific expenditures of this group such as health costs.
Additionally, seniors face housing challenges, and are often unable to remain in their homes and avoid foreclosure. Foreclosure rates in NY have been at the nation’s highest levels. Elder hunger is another concern for seniors. According to a 2007 study by the Council of Senior Centers and Services (CSCS), 1 in 3 seniors reported experiencing food insecurity – missing meals and not knowing where there next meal would come from. Transportation concerns for seniors include: the availability and funding of programs that provide vans run by senior centers, meals-on-wheels, and ensuring city bus routes and Access-a-Ride remain accessible for all older adults who rely on these programs. Seniors also face issues related to caregiving, such as the debate over supporting family caregivers of elderly family members, and the growing incidents of elder abuse which are believed to go largely unreported.
In 2013, the NY state legislature approved a bill aimed at giving New Yorkers, who are facing foreclosure, a chance to reach a settlement by ensuring that lenders’ lawyers submit certification regarding the legitimacy of the foreclosure lawsuits filed. Previously, lack of certification had delayed cases from moving into the courts, forcing residents to face mounting fees and interest charges. However, the funding levels for NYC’s Department of Aging, which contracts with community-based agencies to provide services for thousands of older New Yorkers, has lost over $50 million in city funding. With turnout among older adults expected to be significant, candidates in the running will be expected to make their positions on the issues related to aging and seniors known.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated his support for initiatives aimed at protecting seniors and older adults from the rising costs of living. These reforms allocating resources to seniors include: designating affordable housing to seniors, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption which allots city funds to rent increases, keeping senior centers open, and extending resources to a wider older age demographic throughout the city.
Key Questions to Consider
- Should funding levels for the NYC’s Department of Aging be restored?
- Should the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Program be expanded to address the growing number of senior citizens?
- Should funding be provided for family caregivers of the elderly?
- What should be done to address and prevent elder abuse – physical, emotional, and financial?
Resources for More Information
The CSCS mayoral candidate questionnaire, with answers: