Garcia calls on de Blasio to open senior centers as pandemic fades

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Mayoral Candidate Kathryn Garcia held a press conference outside of Open Door Senior Center on 168 Grand St, urging the Mayor to reopen the city’s senior centers on May 13.
Photo by Dean Moses

Mayoral hopeful Kathryn Garcia wants her former boss, current Mayor Bill de Blasio, to open senior centers.

The city’s former sanitation commissioner joined Justin Chin-Shan Yu the Chairperson of APAPA, and David Fu President of the Fu Foundation outside of the Open-Door Senior Center on 168 Grand St. on the Lower East Side on Thursday morning to say it is time for seniors to reunite with their families and friends after well over a year of quarantining due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The loneliness and pain our elders have had to bear over this last year has really been heartbreaking. Many have been separated from their families, their friends, and their grandchildren for over a year. Months of isolation and uncertainty have taken their toll on everyone’s mental and physical health, especially our most vulnerable, older New Yorkers,” Garcia said.        

With the vaccine rollout in full swing and the city beginning its reopening process, Garcia condemned a lack of strategies from City Hall in reopening senior centers, stating older residents have a need to socialize as much as their younger counterparts.

Garcia says that isolation has been a devastating factor seniors faced during the pandemic. Photo by Dean Moses

“We need to show our seniors that they matter by fully reopening our senior centers as soon as possible. It is time to let our older New Yorkers live their lives again, taking classes, playing cards, seeing old friends, learning new things,” Garcia said.

If elected, Garcia promised to aid in rebuilding the care industry by investing in service providers and upgrading senior centers as well as establish new locations for older adults to spend their time and from where they can find services and case management.

She told amNewYork Metro that this topic is close to her heart due to her senior parents and other members of the elderly community who feel isolated.

“We know there are health impacts from being alone and being isolated. This puts them in danger. So, bringing back senior centers gives them a more healthy life,” she said.

Justin Chin-Shan Yu the Chairperson of APAPA. Photo by Dean Moses

Justin Chin-Shan Yu agreed, demonstrating his dismay at the centers still shuttered by pointing to the name “Open door” before yanking on the locked entranceway.

“Just like you see, Open Door is one of the largest senior centers. The name is open door, but the doors are still closed. Why? Because the city moved too slow,” Yu said, adding, “I myself am a senior and I know what they feel. They don’t have big families, they don’t speak English well, but whole lines of service come with senior centers,” Yu said.