Monday, December 22, 2014

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Senior Services Among Items Outlined In Budget Cuts

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TWC News: Senior Services Among Items Outlined In Budget Cuts
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Some of the cuts proposed in the mayor's new financial plan would have a direct affect on seniors who need help at home and the people who provide that help. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

Queens resident Fredelino Vicedo, 67, needs an oxygen machine to help him breathe because of chronic respiratory illness. He says he would not have been able to get the life saving equipment if not for case manager Iolanda Desouza of the non profit Sunnyside Community Services.

"I was able to survive," said Vicedo.

Sunnyside Community Services is one of the agencies contracted by the city's Department for the Aging to provide case management for homebound seniors. That is, to help them with services like Meals on Wheels, public assistance and Medicaid, and get them help with rent and heating bills.

"Our goal is to maintain the quality of life of our clients and we have been very successful," said Desouza.

But the mayor's updated financial plan for the city includes cuts to the case management program. Reductions include 15 percent in 2011, or $3.3 million, and 30 percent, or $6.6 million, in 2012.

City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who is chair of the Council's Aging Committee, says the Department for the Aging should be left off the chopping block.

"Are we going to keep this agency open? Are we going to keep providing service? We've closed over 25 senior centers, we've made cuts to home care," said Lappin.

Cuts to the case management program could force agencies that provide the service to cut staff, meaning less help for people like Fredelino.

"I have a family, I have children in college, I have a house, I have rent," said Desouza.

"My dear mayor, I beg you, please, study carefully, and don't cut our budget," said Vicedo.

Without the support, Vicedo says he truly does not know what he will do.

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