Our Plan for Aging Justice

As your City Council Member, I will fight for older New Yorkers’ needs to be considered in every issue from housing, to food insecurity, to health care, to ending the digital divide. We need real investment for targeted services that meet diverse seniors where they are at:
  • Ensure all older New Yorkers have safe, affordable, supportive housing options.
  • Elevate older New Yorkers’ health and well-being.
  • Value care providers with dignity, good pay, and benefits.

Read more below...

The Issues:

My older neighbors are truly the backbone of our building’s community. They bring their wisdom, experience, skills, and incredible energy to every aspect of keeping our co-op thriving. And that’s just a snapshot of the vital role older New Yorkers play in the life of District 11, and across our City. Yet for decades our City has criminally underfunded senior services, and undervalued those who care for aging New Yorkers. Older New Yorkers are not just our past—their contributions are critical to building back better, and it’s time we invest in their well-being accordingly.

In a city where our older adult population is growing and diversifying, we must advocate for and keep seniors’ best interests at heart. Over 1 in 5 New Yorkers is age 60 or older—the City’s fastest growing population. Older New Yorkers are a diverse group racially, ethnically, and economically. Fifty nine percent of seniors are from communities of color, and nearly half speak a language other than English. 

Financial security is critical for aging with dignity. Yet in District 11, and across the city, too many seniors struggle to get by. Nearly 1 in 5 older New Yorkers live in poverty, higher than the national rate. Our older neighbors likely contribute more than a third of their income on rent while also incurring the higher health and mobility costs of aging. One in ten older New Yorkers are food insecure, relying on inadequately funded meals programs. 

 

While New York City can be a great place to grow older, it can also be incredibly challenging, and our city has not done nearly enough to invest in older New Yorkers’ daily needs. Loneliness and social isolation are not just emotionally taxing for older adults: they are killers. They can be as harmful to one’s health as smoking fifteen cigarettes per day. Nearly one third of seniors—more of whom are low income, or who are non-English speakers, Black, or Latinx—lack internet access. Not only does this exacerbate isolation and make accessing services harder, it has been a huge barrier to getting vaccinated. And while most seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, many are unable to due to unaffordable rents, years long waiting lists for affordable housing, buildings that are ill-equipped to safely age in place, and underinvestment in community-based solutions. 

 

We cannot build back better without addressing the issues facing the people who care for our seniors. The essential workers who care for older New Yorkers—approximately 80% of whom are people of color, including 72% who are women of color—are severely undervalued. They deserve to work with dignity, good pay and benefits, and pathways for opportunity.

Our Solutions:

Our government can’t continue to silo and ignore older New Yorkers. Currently, only 1% of the City budget goes to the Department for the Aging (DFTA). That must change. With funding that actually meets the level of need, skilled caregivers who are critical to helping seniors stay in their homes could be paid living wages, instead of the poverty wages they currently get. Senior centers that offer culturally appropriate programming, community, and access to services, could get needed upgrades. And older adults could be supported by case managers who can help them access services, instead of languishing on years-long waiting lists. 

It’s time for New York City to commit to an age justice agenda.

 

As your City Council Member, I will fight for older New Yorkers’ needs to be considered in every issue from housing, to food Insecurity, to health care, to ending the digital divide. We need real investment for targeted services that meet diverse seniors where they are at.

 

I commit to hiring a constituent services coordinator dedicated to addressing the needs of District 11’s older residents in every neighborhood. I will ensure that seniors’ voices are heard and that their rights are front and center as we build our city back better.

Ensure all older New Yorkers have safe, affordable, supportive housing options:
  • Advocate for seniors’ automatic enrollment in the currently underutilized Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), so that all seniors who qualify for rent assistance can get help to age in their own homes.

  • Build and preserve deeply affordable housing for low-income seniors, in partnership with nonprofit developers.

  • Support calls for the city and state to fund social workers in senior housing.

  • Call for a publicly-funded program for minor repairs and upgrades to older New Yorkers’ homes, making homes safer and creating local jobs.

  • Make sure that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the largest housing provider for our city’s seniors, has the resources it needs to thrive.

  • Direct resources to support Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCS).

Elevate older New Yorkers’ health and well-being:
  • Increase baselined funding for senior services, both for DFTA and community-based organizations.

  • End senior food insecurity, including funding seven meals per week instead of five, and increasing the number of meals available per day for vulnerable older adults. 

  • Invest capital funds in community-based and NYCHA senior centers that are in need of repairs and modernization.

  • Give older New Yorkers the tools and support they need to connect online with loved ones and with critical services: providing affordable home internet, and ensuring senior centers can provide technology and digital literacy programs.

  • Fight for more state and city funding for the Expanded in-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP), to eliminate the unacceptably long waitlists for low-income seniors to access case management and home care. 

  • Advocate for the New York Health Act so that all New Yorkers can have long-term care coverage.

  • Find better solutions for heat-vulnerable seniors who lack in-home cooling, including retrofits to make older buildings more energy efficient, air conditioners, and better public cooling centers.

 

Value care providers with dignity, good pay, and benefits:
  • During the pandemic, advocate for home care and nursing home workers to get hazard pay, PPE, paid time off, and all other benefits required for essential workers.

  • Call on New York State to leverage Medicaid to raise care worker pay above minimum wage to reflect the value of home care and to recruit and retain more workers.

  • Increase salaries for social workers in City-contracted senior serving organizations. 

  • Place a lower cap on senior case manager loads.