Lowey Fights to Protect Initiatives Hudson Valley Families Depend on

Rockland congresswoman Nita Lowey vowed Wednesday to fight what she called President Donald Trump's devastating cuts to programs that help seniors and working people, including housing programs and food programs through Meals on Wheels.

Lowey, who also represents parts of Westchester County, said the Republican president's budget proposals would eliminate millions of dollars for programs supporting nutrition, housing, and heat for older and vulnerable New Yorkers.

In a telephone call with reporters, Lowey and speakers from Rockland and Westchester went through a list of programs they said would face severe financial losses or elimination under the president's budget.

The participants included Donald Hammond of Rockland Meals on Wheels, Gerri Levy, executive director of the Rockland Housing Action Coalition, Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg; and Joseph Guarinello, vice president of Energy Programs at Heartshare.

The speakers all said they are concerned about proposed cuts to the Community Development Block Grant Program, which funds portions of Meals on Wheels and other programs for things like affordable housing, infrastructure investments, and economic development.

New York State received nearly $300 million in CDBG grants last year, of which $2,197,424 went to Rockland County. Another $824,518 went to White Plains.

"President Trump says he wants to the president to all Americans but with this 'skinny budget' he broke his promise," Lowey said.

She said the budget proposal also would make $15.1 billion and $4.7 billion cuts to the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, could result in 24,000 fewer meals delivered to more than 100 homebound seniors, closure of five senior activity centers that provide more than 28,000 meals, and closure of adult day care centers that support seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Rockland Meals on Wheels has an annual budget of  $3,402,492 and could lose $1,596,504, a 46 percent cut under the proposed federal budget, said Hammond. The Rockland program gets $25,000 annually from CDBG for approximately 3,570 meals for 12 to 14 older adults.

"These cuts would reduce the number of seniors we can service, but we are not going to give in or give up,” Hammond said.

Hammond said the cuts could mean closing the organization's Senior Activity Center and Adult Day Care in Rockland, with the loss of more than 28,000 meals annually that will affect more than 500 seniors.

Hammond said programs like Meals on Wheels work, allowing seniors to remain at home and out of the hospital, in some cases. He said 200 seniors attend senior centers daily for companionship and programs.

“We are confident that the quality of our services speak for itself and will encourage more people to get involved." he said.

Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg said the cuts would be catastrophic to nutrition programs for seniors. She said the Meals on Wheels provides meals for an estimated 150 seniors in her community. She said her town counts on federal and state dollars to help .

"Without federal funding," Levenberg said, "the town stands to lose about $54,000 annually, which is the equivalent of approximately 13,000 meals. This would be catastrophic for the senior citizens in our community.”

Lowey said the budget propisal also would eliminate funding support for housing and heating for older, disabled, and vulnerable families including:

The HOME Investment Partnerships Program
, which provides funding for a wide range of development opportunities like building, buying, and rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or ownership as well as direct rental assistance to low-income individuals. New York State received nearly $93 million in HOME Grants last year, of which $605,037 went to Rockland County.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provided $364.2 million to help more than 1.2 million vulnerable New York households afford heating and cooling last year.  This program is aimed at assisting seniors, the disabled, and low-income families with children avoid health complications from bitter cold and extreme heat.

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