As New York’s expenditures get whittled down, Bronx senior citizens stand to feel the affects as much as any other demographic during the state’s budget cuts.
The seniors who stand to lose the most, however, are also fighting the cuts the hardest. Hundreds of senior citizens gathered in front of the Davidson Senior Center on Union Avenue and 163rd Street on Friday, March 18, protesting cuts in the state budget that will close several Bronx senior centers, including Davidson.
The cuts would also cut social and educational programs for the adjacent GrandParent Family Apartments, the only building in the country reserved strictly for grandparents that have legal custody of their grandchildren.
The Davidson Senior Center offers computer classes, organizes trips and serves as a place for people to congregate. Its regulars have all retired from the work force and see it as their place to go every day.
“This is my second home,” said protester Rosa Mulero, who has been going to the center for eight years. “They’re taking my life away.”
The GrandParent Family Apartments provide a unique home to families that consist of a grandparent raising a grandchild. In addition to housing, the apartments offer social work programs, after school activities, homework help and other amenities to families that consist of a grandparent raising a grandchild.
Should the proposed budget go through, the families and the building would remain, but all social services would be cut. Ruth Whitfield has been raising her 9-year-old grandson in the apartments since 2007.
Assemblyman Eric Stevenson organized the rally. He has been working in Albany to make sure seniors in his district don’t suffer because of state budget cuts.
“We don’t think the budget should be balanced off the backs of seniors,” Stevenson said. “We can balance the budget elsewhere. These people have paid their dues. It’s very important that our seniors have a place to come.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo was a target of much of the rally’s wrath. Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and Congressman Jose Serrano also addressed the crowd.
The senior centers and the GrandParent Family Apartments will learn more about their futures on April 1, the deadline for the state budget. According to Serrano, protests like Friday’s are mainly about showing that people will not take cuts to essential programs lying down.
“I think what needs to be done is what’s happening now,” Serrano said. “It’s an issue of not just accepting things as they are.”
©2011 Community News Group