Local Pols: “It’s About Time” For City-Funded Asian Senior Center

An HCS-organized senior health fair earlier this month. (Source: HCS)

We told you on Tuesday about the Bensonhurst annex of the Homecrest Community Services senior center, and that it is now the first publicly-funded senior center focused on the unique needs of the Asian-American community. On Monday, State Senator Martin Golden, New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and officials of Homecrest Community Services, held a press conference to celebrate the announcement.

Now a slew of Brooklyn-based City Council members responsible for obtaining the funding are celebrating the victory with a collective “Hoorah!”

Oh, and they’re dishing a little on Golden’s publicity-hogging press conference.

Councilmembers Lew Fidler, Domenic Recchia, David Greenfield, Sara Gonzales, Vincent Gentile and Michael Nelson sent a letter in April urging the city’s Department for the Aging to recognize Southern Brooklyn’s booming Asian-American community, and provide funding for senior care.

The department should “acknowledge and correct a gross historic imbalance that has existed for nearly two decades in southern Brooklyn and which is only growing in its inequity everyday,” the letter said, noting that until now there is “not a single DFTA funded senior center operated by a culturally sensitive organization in the entire borough.”

In addition to securing funding from the DFTA for the Homecrest Community Services in Bensonhurst, the pols doled out an additional $83,375 to the non-profit itself, which will go to benefit both the 7907 New Utrecht Avenue and their Sheepshead Bay location inside the Homecrest Presbyterian Church at 1413 Avenue T, according to a press release issued by the Brooklyn delegation. The centers serve two of the most densely-populated Asian-American areas in Brooklyn.

“I am thrilled to know that all the hard work has paid off and Brooklyn’s first majority Asian senior center will receive much deserved funding.” Recchia said. “I worked tirelessly alongside Council Members Fidler, Gonzalez, Greenfield, Gentile and Nelson to help move this along and am proud to say that we achieved something substantial.”

“Homecrest has been there for the Asian community in Bensonhurst for nearly a decade, bringing a very unique feeling of community and cultural heritage to its members,” Gentile said. “For years Homecrest has relied on donations and grants to keep their engine running, but now that they’ve been selected by DFTA for funding they’ll be part of a strong network with better resources and more support. This is a great victory for the seniors of southwest Brooklyn.”

“This is great news for Brooklyn’s growing Asian-American population and a tremendous victory for the entire community,” added Greenfield.

The council members, however, appeared to chafe at Golden beating them to the punch with Monday’s press conference, and apparently writing them out of the credits.

“The Brooklyn Council delegation didn’t run out and hold a press conference like a certain State Senator did to take credit,” Fidler said in the press release. “We just went out and got the job done.”

UPDATE (5:48 p.m.): John Quaglione, a spokesperson for Senator Golden, just sent over the following statement pointing out that he’s done more than just a press conference to help Homecrest Community Services:

Senator Marty Golden too sent a letter of support to the the Department for the Aging.  Your story should also reflect the fact that, so that the City Council members who signed the letter are aware, that since 2004, Senator Golden funded the senior center in the amount of more than $800,000 to keep their operations running to this point when they have now been named an official City senior center. Senator Golden has been getting the job done for the Homecrest Senior Center for almost a decade.”

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