Harry DiPrinzio

Inside the Frederick Douglass Senior Center.

The City Council’s 2020 budget allocated $2.1 million in funding for 10 senior centers at New York City Housing Authority developments that were set to close at the beginning of July. The operations of the centers will be transferred to the Department for the Aging.

The centers were targeted for closure because of low participation and a need for budget cuts but seniors at many facilities rallied for support.

The stated plan was to provide busing to nearby facilities.

At the Frederick Douglas Senior Center on West 102nd Street, seniors had organized a petition and a letter calling on the city to maintain funding. Elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell also voiced opposition to the centers’ closing.

Seniors at the Bland, King and Astoria houses were also vocal about opposition to the closure.

Centers to remain open:                                             Operator:

Armstrong Wayside Tompkins Park
Shelton JSPOA
Douglass West Side Federation
King Towers Presbyterian
Palmetto Gardens Riseboro Community
Langston Hughes NYCHA
Astoria NYCHA
Sumner NYCHA
Lincoln NYCHA

The two centers that were slated for closure but did not have funding restored are Baisley Park and Taft.

“The Council worked very hard to advocate for our seniors in this year’s budget and we are proud of the result,” a spokesperson for the Council said.

“The seniors are ecstatic. They are happy,” said Basilia Silverio, assistant director of the Douglas center. “I am happy. Imagine losing your job. It’s not an easy situation.”

“Ensuring that seniors have access to quality social opportunities is a measure of who we are as a society,” said Paul Freitag, executive director of the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, the organization that operates the Douglas center.

The Douglas center has persistent leak from the ceiling. According to Freitag, repairs by NYCHA are in progress.

As for future funding, discussions will be ongoing, the Council spokesperson said.

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