Older adults calling for repairs to senior centers


More than 150 older adults gathered at the Bronx County Courthouse on April 5 to call for urgent repairs to senior centers and greater funding to aging services.

The Bronx Advocacy Day event was organized by LiveOnNY, an advocacy organization for the city’s more than four million older adults, in partnership with Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson. It had 16 adult service providers show up in support, including The Riverdale Y and RSS-Riverdale Senior Services.

The event follows Mayor Eric Adams’ proposal of gutting $18 million from older-adult centers, as well as the City Council’s budget response, which would invest $50 million for repairs to the centers.

“People are living longer, the world has changed, yet the city has not invested the dollars it needs to make sure that every single one of us wakes up one day older,” LiveOnNY executive director Allison Nickerson said. “We need to make sure that, in our later life, as we age, the systems, the budgets, the policies, the older-adults centers are fully supported and ready to meet our needs.”

Robert Ackerson of the RSS-Riverdale Senior Service advisory committee said the event was about raising funding and ensuring there are no cuts in services for Bronx seniors.

“We should not be treated as second-class citizens, any of us, seniors, anybody in the city who is over the age of 60,” Ackerson said. “And this mayor has got to see the point. He has made budget mistakes and he’s got rectify them.”

Loyda Camacho, president of The Riverdale Y’s advisory board, said continued funding is vital.

“We do so many things for the seniors,” Camacho said. “It’s amazing how many events we have for them. So many seniors are alone and they need our help and protection.”

Robert Stein, a member at the RSS for 15 years, said the center has been a lifesaver for him, particularly when his wife was in a nursing home in declining heath.

“The senior center was there and provided help,” Stein said. “I owe (them) a tab I could never completely repay.”

Joining the older adults in their call was Gibson, state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, and Assemblywoman Yudelka Tapia.

Gibson asked attendees to stay the course, encouraged, strong and powerful in their work.

“In 2024, I want more programs for older adults,” she said. “I want more resources. I want all of you to have everything you rightfully deserve as New Yorkers. You have built this city to be what it is today and we owe you. You’ve had our backs and we need to have your backs.”

Nickerson told The Press it’s important to give older adults a platform to talk about why investing in aging is important.

“The real problem is a chronic under-investment in the system,” Nickerson said. “You have programs that were started 30 years ago. (Centers) have ceilings that are falling down. They don’t have HVAC systems or air conditioning. They don’t have proper kitchen equipment It is abysmal that, in a city that has a budget of roughly $100 billion, that we can’t put more money towards programs that work, programs that help people in their community.”

There are more than one million adults older than 65 in the city, making them about 20 percent of the city’s population. In 2023, older adults accounted for 14 percent of the Bronx’s population, according to a report from the Center for an Urban Future.

“We were workers in the city,” Ackerson said.

“I worked 40 years for the department of education in the city of New York. We deserve it, we paid our taxes and now it’s time for something to come back to us.”

Bronx Advocacy Day Senior centers Aging services Funding for seniors Mayor Eric Adams LiveOnNY Riverdale Y RSS-Riverdale Senior Services Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson Older adults population