Friday, June 26, 2009

Bloomberg Administration’s policy to turn a blind eye on vulnerable populations

New York City, NY by By Patrick Hedlund

Closing the city’s only 24-hour homeless shelter dedicated to serving seniors amounts to nothing less than elder abuse, a group of advocates charged at a rally on the steps of City Hall on Wed., June 24.

The event was organized by the recently formed Senior Outrage Coalition, which has been protesting the plan to close Peter’s Place in Chelsea ever since the Department of Homeless Services announced it would be shuttering the shelter on June 30 as part of a plan to reduce the total number of “drop-in” centers citywide.

Peter’s Place has operated out of the basement of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church on W. 23rd St. for the last 16 years, providing hot meals, showers and clean clothes to more than 100 seniors per day. While the shelter does not offer beds to visitors, its does provide round-the-clock service catered specifically to elderly individuals, many suffering from mental and physical disabilities.

“It is an absolute disgrace that here in the city of New York, with a budget of almost $59 billion, that we cannot find the money to keep this place open,” said Queens Councilmember Tony Avella, a candidate for mayor and the only elected official to attend the rally. “How we take care of those people in need in our city is a reflection on our society. And we need to send a message to Mike Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn that the money should be found to keep this place open.”

“The closing of Peter’s Place is the result of Bloomberg administration’s policy to turn a blind eye on vulnerable populations such as the homeless elderly, leaving them without proper services and care,” said SOC’s Muriel Beach, who is also NYC Chapter president of the Senior Action Council. “We accuse the city of New York of elder abuse in its neglect of homeless seniors.”

“Let’s call elder abuse exactly what it is and where it is in this city,” said Jim Fouratt, a candidate for Quinn’s Council seat. “Elder abuse starts in the mayor’s office, and elder abuse starts in the speaker of the City Council’s office.”

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