Subtlety skipped the City Hall rally held Wednesday by aging New Yorkers and staff at the senior centers they use.
“What do we want?” Nikki Odlivak, president and CEO of the Community Agency for Senior Citizens, chanted to the crowd at one point. “We want money!” they rhythmically responded. “What do we want?” came the call again. “We want money!” went the crowd.
Money is the focus for virtually every group that takes its place on the steps of City Hall during budget season. Political and policy dynamics make the advocacy efforts of the aging-services community somewhat different, however.
On one hand, senior centers are rich reservoirs of votes, which is probably why a gaggle of Councilmembers lined up to take the podium, many of the flanked by clients from the senior centers in their district.
On the other hand, in spite of the large and growing population of New Yorkers over 60, services targeted directly to that population through the Department for the Aging represent a small fraction of the city budget (although seniors benefit from other programs as well.)
In this year’s budget process, advocates have elevated two asks: one for $20 million in additional senior-center meals funding, and another for $15 million for delivered meals. Whether or not they get it will be decided between now and the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Here is the footage City Limits shot at the rally: