Gillibrand Touts Seniors Bill In Flushing
By Joe Marvilli
|U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (center) speaks to retirees at Selfhelp’s Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Innovative Senior Center in Flushing, flanked by State Sen. Toby Stavisky (left) and Assemblywoman Grace Meng (right). Photo by Joe Marvilli.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand visited a Flushing senior center on Oct. 23 to speak about a new bill for the country’s retirees.
Gillibrand took a tour of the Selfhelp’s Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Innovative Senior Center, speaking to senior citizens about issues important to them. She ended her trek with a speech about the Older Americans Act.
The act was initially passed in 1965, providing funding for nutrition and supportive community-based services, disease prevention services and elder rights programs to those of the age 60 and older.
Gillibrand is one of the members of Congress co-sponsoring the reauthorization and addition of amendments to the bill. She focused her speech on four priorities of the bill’s renovation.
First up, Gillibrand focused on improving opportunities for seniors to age in place and continue to live independently later in life. This would be done through a combination of additional funding, better in-home health services and access to senior-friendly transportation.
“They would like to stay in their homes, be near their families and be in the communities they’ve been in their whole lives,” she said. “It’s important to be able to provide that opportunity for them and to have low-cost, affordable housing like we have right here.”
Secondly, she mentioned strengthening technology and financial literacy for seniors, so they can use the Internet for communication with relatives and other retirees. By being trained in both technological and economic skills, seniors can also learn to protect themselves against fraud or scams.
“Oftentimes, we’ve seen fraud committed against our seniors because they don’t know all the rules or they don’t know what’s being offered,” Gillibrand said. “We have to give you the tools to make sure you can protect yourselves, so you wouldn’t be taken unawares.”
The bill’s provisions would not just improve seniors’ minds but their physical health as well, with improved nutrition programs. Gillibrand is also fighting for stronger investments in elder abuse prevention services. Abuse of seniors is one of the crimes on the rise in recent years, according to the senator.
“We have to protect our seniors and make sure no one is being hurt or not protected within their home environment,” she said.
Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) were also on-hand to show their support for the bill and to praise SelfHelp’s facilities.
“As we were taking a tour, some of us were joking: I can’t wait until we’re seniors because I want to live in SelfHelp,” said Meng. “We look forward to continuing to work hard to make our seniors happier and healthier than ever.”
“It gives people a reason to get up in the morning, to have something to do, to learn and to grow,” Stavisky added. “Every time I come to SelfHelp, I see something new.”
Gillibrand has publicly endorsed Meng and Stavisky for their election campaigns, Stavisky in the 16th State Senate District and Meng in the 6th Congressional District.
When asked about how the Older Americans Act renewal and amendments would be funded, Gillibrand talked about cutting out unnecessary spending, such as subsidies to the oil and gas industries.
“We have to tighten our belts, cut spending, but we have to do it in a balanced way,” she said. “It will have to be balanced and strengthening of our safety nets at the same time while making tough choices.”
The senator also supported increasing LGBTQ rights for senior citizens, though this would be done through her vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.