Monday, October 5, 2009

City of Atlanta cuts 100% of Senior Citizen Services funding

My first job out of college was managing the Meals On Wheels Atlanta program, one of the programs that has lost the $30,000 it was granted last year from the City of Atlanta. Our Adult Day Care Center lost just as much. First, let me be clear: SCS has been very well managed financially and otherwise, and the base of funding is both broad and deep. Though the City of Atlanta is choosing not to support its senior citizens, we will not let them go. SCS will continue to be their safety net.

The reasoning for this decision is simply baffling to me. Is it possible that City staffers and elected officials are not as in touch with the dire needs of our neighbors? I lived in Atlanta for just seven years, four of those while in “the Emory bubble,” but the poverty that necessitates life-sustaining services is not foreign to me. I have walked up pathways to two-room homes housing eight people, wondering how the rundown shack was still considered safe to live in. I have delivered to apartment buildings where half of the roof had fallen in, resulting in an official condemnation. A few seniors were still living in the apartments that had most of their ceilings, because they had nowhere else to go. When I had trouble finding the building, I called the woman whose meal I was delivering. "You probably just passed it by," she said. "It doesn't look like anyone could live here, but we do."

Nearly 45 years ago, Mrs. S helped to found Senior Citizen Services. She has been coming to Adult Day Care every day for many years.

Our seniors have been good stewards of our communities, from raising families to building skyscrapers, and now is not the time to let them go. If the requested funding cut is approved

 54 seniors will not receive Meals On Wheels Atlanta services next year
 More than 9,300 meals will have to be cut from the program next year
 28 seniors who receive critical Alzheimer’s support will be affected by the cuts
 Seniors will lose more than 3,100 individual hours of support
 20 memory-challenged seniors will lose financial assistance for their daily care
 The cost burden will force many families to leave the program and deal with Alzheimer’s alone; families will be unable to maintain steady employment due to the added time required for elder care
 Both programs serve seniors who are very low income and without adequate support systems to remain in their living situations without services. This will force these senior clients and their families into homelessness and/or institutionalization.

- by Jaclyn Barbarow
Grants and Database Manager