Seniors demand more from city budget


They voted him in, and they can vote him out.

That was the mantra Riverdale seniors chanted alongside their fellows from all over the city as they rallied against Mayor Eric Adams’ proposed budget cuts to services for the aging.

On Thursday, May 16, seniors from across the city gathered outside of the city hall to rally for the current budget proposal, which would cut $80 million from the city’s aging department budget, to be restored.

Floyd Rumohr, interim executive director at Riverdale Senior Services, stated said the number of people aged 65 and older in the city is expected to rise 44.2 percent, fast-tracking from 938,000 people in 2000 to 1.35 million people in 2030.

Riverdale Senior Services partnered with both the Riverdale Y and LiveOn NY in attending the rally.

LiveOn NY is a network of nonprofits working to engage and serve older New Yorkers.

“Budget cuts could close anywhere from 30 to 60 senior centers,” Allison Nickerson, executive director of LiveOn NY, said, adding her group has more than 120 organizations in membership. She also said every city neighborhood holds a demographic of roughly 20 percent older adults.

Robert Stein, a member of Riverdale Senior Services, was clear about his disapproval of planned budget cuts, and what’s at stake if they are taken away.

“Senior centers have been a lifeline for all of us, but, with proposed budget cuts, that could all be taken away,” Stein said.

During the rally, Riverdale Senior Service member Jackie Jones said city’s older population built New York City. The rest of the members cheered.

RSS and Riverdale Y member Robert Ackerson said this is an issue of safety. Senior services like the ones offered at both neighborhood centers provide food, health outreach, transportation, and mental health services.

Loyda Camacho, a member of the Riverdale Y, said seniors often live alone and they look forward to having somewhere to go with other people.

Among the services provided by Riverdale Senior Services is the Adult Day Program for Memory Loss. The program, recently renamed the William A. Tieck ADAP Program, services adults with a range of memory loss by providing them a space to go during the day in which they are encouraged to be independent in their communities, build up their self-esteem, and spend time with others to avoid isolation.

This is not the first year the city’s aging services have seen a budget cut but, according to Rumohr, the budget has remained less than 1 percent of the entire city budget, which he said is grossly inefficient.

“Now is not the time to divest in older adults, now is the time to invest in older adults,” Rumohr said.

Other services that could be cut include Meals on Wheels, a nationwide organization that services older adults by providing them with food and an opportunity for socialization. Part of what makes the organization popular is delivery directly to the homes of those in need, removing the need for seniors to leave their homes for food if they have mobility issues.

Meals on Wheels data shows 1.2 million older adults are currently living alone in New York state and more than 500,000 older adults are living below the poverty line.

Rumohr said the older adult population should be looked at through the lens of vitality, vigor and intellectual rigor as opposed to their often-perceived invisibility.

“It’s absolutely vital as I age,” he said. “I’m going on the journey with many of our members and older and adults, and often the perception of older adults is we have one step in the grave and that is simply not true.”

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