Remarks by Gray Panthers NYC on Improving Older New Yorkers’ Access to City Services, Sept 7, 2022
Thank you so much for the invitation to present the views of Gray Panthers on the suite of bills under consideration. I am Jack Kupferman, President of Gray Panthers NYC. Since 1970 when Maggie Kuhn created the Gray Panthers, the organization has stood firm to combat ageism in the workplace and wherever it rears its ugly head.
We’re here today to continue in that tradition. We believe that the expansion of access to legal services for older persons 60+ fills an important gap in service for New Yorkers. It’s no surprise that the plague of Covid has resulted in a tidal wave of death and destruction as well as an avalanche of rent arrears and potential evictions, acutely felt by older New Yorkers.
Among the Intros presented, the expansion of the City’s “right to counsel” program as well as expansion of a city-funded “one shot deal” piques our interest. It has the possibility of having the greatest positive impact for older New Yorkers.
Of particular interest in this bill is the inclusion of legal services for foreclosure issues, not only for renters. This has always been a deficit in access to justice for older New Yorkers of limited means, who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of accessing services. It’s hard for anyone to deal with the trauma of foreclosure, let alone those who have never had to navigate the intricacies of the legal and mortgage systems. So often, foreclosure proceedings begin when older homeowners have inadvertently failed to pay property taxes or missed mortgage payments. This legislation gives an opportunity to address the inequities of representation and access to justice. Mortgage companies have extensive legal resources. Struggling older homeowners do not.
Legal services for older New Yorkers have always been woefully inadequate. It’s about time that we seek to enhance access to services and to better ensure that New Yorkers can age in place.
Equally important in the provisions of this legislation is the understanding that case management is an ignored, yet essential, service to work toward resolving housing and other crises. Bravo for putting this important item into this Intro.
Let’s refine this legislation to make it fiscally sound and administratively “doable”. We note that the key will be obtaining a secure and long term funding stream.
We’ve wanted to keep our comments short. Again, thank you for inviting us to speak regarding improving access to city services for older New Yorkers.
Jack Kupferman, President
Gray Panthers NYC
And here are some photos and videos of the rally!