City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and one of her colleagues, Council Member Crystal Hudson, took part in a special webinar with AARP New York and Schneps Media focused on ageism, crime and other issues impacting local seniors.
Elizabeth Aloni of PoliticsNY and Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP New York, co-hosted the meeting with Adams and Hudson, both of whom are outspoken advocates for older adults in New York. They talked about the mayor’s new cabinet for New York’s older population, from ages 50+, and what the City Council is doing to protect them from ageism and targeted crime while assisting in housing, connectivity and adapting with the changing times.
Finkel leads the daily operations of AARP, the most visible and successful organization in the state advocating for New York’s 50+ population. During her time there, AARP NY efforts on behalf of their 2.3 million members have led to historic state reforms, including the passage of the Care Act, assisted living protections, anti-predatory lending, paid family leave and affordable housing in New York City.
Speaker Adams was elected in January of this year and leads the most diverse and women-majority council in New York City history as the first ever African American speaker, as well as being the first woman to represent District 28 in Queens. Hudson, the first gay Black woman elected to the chamber, was previously a Bronx community organizer, and is active in efforts to help New York’s seniors.
When Finkel asked the legislators about combating ageism, Speaker Adams explained that the City Council is dedicated to meeting the needs of the older New Yorkers.
“[The Council is] addressing food insecurity, funding older adult centers, and supporting geriatric mental health services, and a whole lot more,” Adams pointed out. “In our recent budget, the Council allocated more than $32 million, specifically for senior service initiatives that support a range of programs to assist our older adult population that include a new investment of over $3 million to purchase 44 new vans delivering meals to homebound New Yorkers.”
Hudson added that funding is being prioritized towards organizations that combat ageism. She has also been working on legislation to combat elder crime and protect the rights of older New Yorkers. Her bills require bias training for service providers and a know your rights pamphlet.
Providing greater education to the public is critical considering that many seniors are often the victims of abuse and crime, and often have difficulty knowing their rights and seeking assistance.
The City Council also introduced a packet of legislation called the Age in Place NYC Package that will be added to over the next few months. According to Council Member Hudson, “We are aiming to address the needs of seniors across health care, housing and everything in between… creating a know your rights pamphlet where the department for the aging would be required or mandated to send out a pamphlet to everybody 60 and over to let people know and inform them about the resources and services that are available to them.”
These bills, if passed and signed into law by the mayor, would allow seniors to know everything they qualify for, while promoting greater access to telemedicine and digital literacy.
Hudson’s bills also expand eviction protections and require developers receiving city financial assistance to include universal design in 10% of units to ensure a comfortable home environment for all New Yorkers, and a place to age with dignity in their own homes.
The issue of connectivity in a technologically progressed post-pandemic environment was also a big conversation point during the meeting. The transition has created isolation and the lack of access to services in older New Yorkers is increasing due to reasons ranging from broadband access to technology proficiency.
To combat this, Adams and Hudson explained, the Council is taking on legislation to break down barriers that older citizens are facing.
Both Hudson and her Brooklyn/Queens colleague, City Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez, are sponsoring a bill that would require the city’s Department of Information Technology (DoITT) and the Department for the Aging (DFTA) to establish an online digital literacy program for older adults in an effort to expand connectivity.
“AARP NY is very encouraged by NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Aging Committee Chair Crustal Hudson’s focus on the needs of the 50+ across all five boroughs,” said Finkel. “We were grateful for the opportunity to discuss the council’s plans to combat ageism, expand access to affordable housing, and keep older New Yorkers healthy and connected to vital services. AARP New York looks forward to continuing to work with the NYC Council and Mayor to ensure older New Yorkers can age in place in the city they helped build.”