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Brooklyn and Queens have the largest senior population in New York City what initiatives does your office have to meet the needs of our seniors?

Senator Sanders identified that often times our Seniors have many needs, usually surrounding the areas of social, healthcare or finance in which they require assistance. To address these issues, Senator Sanders hosted a trio of Senior Resource fairs in three (3) different areas of his district-Far Rockaway, South Ozone Park and South Jamaica in December of 2015. This event provided free medical screenings, free legal consult services and other resources to help alleviate those burdens that most seniors face. Senator Sanders frequently visits the Senior Centers in his district, often interacting and speaking with seniors directly to assess how he can help make their lives easier either through facilitating specialty events or legislatively.

In the future , Senator Sanders will be hosting a Senior Fun and Fabulous day event.   This will be a day to pamper and entertain our seniors and let them showcase their talents.  In addition this event will function as a social tool to assist in isolation that seniors sometimes face in their older years.

Also, we host a monthly Senior Administrative Care Breakfast, aimed at bringing resources and useful information to the leadership of senior centers in the area, so that they can pass it along to the older adults who visit their facilities. I would also add that many of the general informational events that I host on topics such as flooding, transportation, crime, health and more, are heavily attended by seniors.

Seniors have been having an increasingly difficult time finding affordable housing what is your office or organization doing to alleviate this growing problem?

My staff and I are in constant communication with community leaders and organizations as well as city, state and federal agencies, so that we are informed immediately when senior housing opportunities become available and we pass that information along to our senior constituents via social media, email blast, meetings and we maintain applications for senior housing when available. Legislatively, I have advocated for more affordable housing for all New Yorkers, including introducing a bill (S.3254A), which creates a tax credit for renters and small home owners in NYC. It passed the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee this year.

What are some of your most serious concerns about New York City Seniors and how are you addressing them?

I would say that all of the serious issues affecting seniors, whether it’s healthcare, housing, transportation – boils down to a lack of finances. Many seniors live on a fixed income and have a hard time making ends meet. We inform them of services like the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE), City Meals on Wheels, Access-A-Ride and discounted MetroCard programs.

Where can seniors find assistance with your organization and what services would you like our seniors to know is available at your office and or organization?

My office provides help to seniors regarding a wide spectrum of issues, both general and elder related. They include everything from aiding someone in finding their local senior center to providing  assistance with financial planning. We have a housing specialist that volunteers at our office on a bi-weekly basis and provides free assistance, by appointment, with foreclosures, mortgage refinancing, loan modifications and more.

I would encourage any senior living in my district who needs any type of assistance to contact my office, because even if we cannot solve the problem we can certainly direct them to the appropriate agency or organization that can. Seniors can also volunteer at my office. This helps promote socialization and provides a sense of purpose.

Seniors can obtain assistance from my office in-person, by phone or online. My district office is located at 142-01 Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park and can be reached at 718-523-3069. They can also visit my Satellite Office at 1931 Mott Avenue, Suite #305 in Far Rockaway or call 718-327-7017. I can be reached via email at sanders@nysenate.gov and updates can always be found on my State Senate webpage  www.nysenate.gov/senators/james-sanders-jr on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamessandersjrny or on twitter @jsandersnyc

by S. Eric Blackwell