New York has seen a sharp rise in the number of people age 65 and older living in the state over the last decade, and more funding for services is needed to provide for them, Assemblyman Ron Kim said last week.
Kim, the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Aging, called for an additional $50 million annually to help expand services at the State Office for the Aging as well as a boost in local-level and county-level administrative capacity to help spur programs for the elderly that provide direct services.
"We must meet this critical moment for older adults with the seriousness and reverence that their lives deserve," Kim said. "Older adults should not be forced into poverty due to our neglect or apathy. We must prioritize policies that provide this vulnerable population a life full of dignity and respect. How we take care of our elders is a direct reflection of us, which is why I will continue to fight for a system of care that protects all of us."
There are now 3.5 million people who are age 65 and older in New York, a rise of 31% in the last 10 years. The increase in older New Yorkers has also come with a concurrent rise in poverty among older people. Nearly 1 in 8 people aged 65 in New York are living in poverty, and there are higher rates for Black, Hispanic, Asian and immigrant residents, according to Kim's office.
Services won't be the only thing needed, Kim said: Informational campaigns geared toward older New Yorkers to inform them about the housing and food benefit programs they qualify for are also needed.
Advocates for older New Yorkers have pointed to the ongoing challenges the population of adults faces, from financial to being connected with medical services.
"There are more older adults than ever before in New York," said Jonathan Bowles, the executive director of the Center for an Urban Future Fund. "This aging boom is changing the face of communities throughout the five boroughs and across the state, and creating a variety of policy challenges that demand responses from city and state government."