Comptroller Scott Stringer released a new blueprint, "Aging with Dignity," to help more seniors age in place, and access resources for healthy living.
From 2005 to 2015, the number of New Yorkers over 65 surged by 19.2%. Today, more than 1.1 million adults over 65 call our city home.
City planners expect there will be 1.4 million New Yorkers aged 65+ by 2040. The ballooning senior population comes as more and more Baby Boomers are retiring.
That’s why we need a comprehensive, long-term plan to address this change. And every City agency should reevaluate how to best serve our seniors.
The city need to create affordable housing options. More than 40% of senior-headed households depend on government programs for over half their income.
The Comptroller Stringer is proposing that eligible seniors be automatically enrolled in SCRIE – the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption – which freezes rents for seniors who meet certain requirements for age and income.
He’s also proposing an expansion of the Senior Citizens Homeowners’ Exemption. Currently, a homeowner must be over 65 with income of $37,000 or below to be eligible for this tax credit. Raising the threshold to $50,000 would make 29,000 more homeowners eligible.
But a lot of our existing housing is not appropriate for seniors. More than 35% of seniors in NYC are living with a disability that can impair their mobility.
The city should create programs so seniors can upgrade their homes to make them more accessible, and consider enhancing requirements for landlords to make these upgrades.
But this challenge goes beyond housing. The city needs transportation and community adjustments to serve our growing senior population.
Some of these adjustments include benches at bus stops, flexible work schedules for caregivers, and more senior centers in the communities that have large senior populations.
As NYC’s population ages, the MTA expects Access-A-Ride usage to double to more than 14 million trips for New Yorkers by 2022, up from six million trips in 2015. Yet, a Comptroller’s Office audit showed that Access-A-Ride vehicles failed to show up for a scheduled trip more than 31,000 times in 2015.
Just one fourth of bus stops have shelters, and fourteen of the 20 community districts with the largest number of seniors have the lowest ratios of benches per 10,000 seniors. The ability to travel is central to supporting older New Yorkers as they age in place, and sometimes a bus shelter or bench can be the deciding factor. The City and State can improve accessibility to public transportation by adding more bus shelters, benches, subway elevators, and escalators.
Aging with Dignity Report includes many more recommendations, and Comptroller Scott Stringer is urging the city to bring together all agencies that serve seniors to work on a citywide strategy.