Ask Larry Stitts what his biggest concern is for African Americans over the age of 50 and he’s ready with a fast answer.
It’s health care.
“We always need better health care,” said Stitts, owner of the Golden Cup Coffee Company at the corner of East Utica and Jefferson in Buffalo. “That’s the lifeline of living longer and being able to take care of your family. If you got your health, you got everything.”
Casimiro Rodriguez Sr., head of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western N.Y., said the same is true in the Hispanic community.
Residents and community leaders met with representatives from AARP at the University at Buffalo to talk about how residents over the age of 50 in communities of color are adversely affected in several areas.
"I would say one of the biggest concerns is economic security,” said Pastor George Nicholas, a member of the African American Health Disparities Task Force. “For a lot of our seniors they have great concerns around their own personal economic security
Another concern is reliable and extensive access to public transportation.
"We have transportation that's available, but sometimes the transportation that is available does not connect our seniors to some of the places that they need to go, whether it be medical appointments, or whether it be the simplicity of getting access to grocery and food and things like that,” he said. “We need to figure out ways to enhance our transportation system for seniors.”
The AARP has partnered with local officials to host listening meetings around the state to hear from residents and come up with policy recommendations to address those concerns.
"There're some people that can get some things done,” Nicholas said. “It's really our responsibility, those of us who kind of convene these two listening sessions and this session today to provide the leadership and create a path to do the follow up, and that's what we have to hold ourselves accountable to, and I'm personally willing to do that to move this thing forward.”