• Last week Meghan and I attended a community forum/town hall meeting on aging in Clinton Hill. The meeting focused on assistance and services for senior citizens.

    Sponsored by the local branch of AARP and HealthFirst, the meeting was hosted by Olanike Alabi, the Democratic District Leader who is now running for New York State Assembly, and Faye Moore, who is running for Ms. Alabi’s seat.

    Ola and Faye welcomed the attendees as Legacy Bearers and Wise Ones. You could feel the reverence of these young public servants towards their elders. You could also feel a shared sense of shame in the system’s failure to care adequately for elders’ needs.

    Information was provided by Charise Lawrence, the Brooklyn Community Outreach Representative from the New York City Department of Aging.

    She talked about the 258 Senior Centers serving 28,000 Brooklynites. She talked about the case management, transportation, and food delivery services provided by the Department of Aging.

    She talked about the Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program that helps New Yorkers navigate health insurance options, including Medicare.

    She talked about the Elderly Crime Victims and Elder Abuse Unit.

    And she gave a preview of the city’s innovative senior centers, which Brooklyn still awaits.

    Then the guest of honor, City Comptroller John Liu, arrived. He talked about the financial controls that would allow the city to find money for senior services.

    The forum felt a lot like Sunday church. Statistics were received with shouts and murmers: “That’s a lot of people!” referring to the 1.3 million 60+ year old New Yorkers expected in the coming decade. “They’re getting older.”

    When Liu said that one third of New Yorkers approaching retirement have no savings and will rely completely on Social Security, the two women next to me clasped hands and raised them towards the heavens in prayer.

    Questions included desperate appeals for affordable senior housing and challenges about the city’s accountability for Seniors’ tax dollars.

    But there was one shared conclusion.  Despite its failures, Liu said, “this is an amazing city.”

    “It is. It is,” echoed the Seniors.

    In a city where 1% of the population holds a third of the wealth, we have a long way to go in accountability towards our legacy bearers. But we can change that. It starts with community-based initiatives and accountable public servants. And it’s starting in Brooklyn.
    Know of initiatives supporting Brooklyn’s elders? Let us know here:

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    This entry was posted on Monday, June 4th, 2012 at 11:47 am and is filed under Policy & Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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