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NYCHA Helps Seniors Care for their Health

The New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA’s) fastest growing population — seniors age 62 or older — came by the bus load to Riverbank State Park in Harlem this month to participate in the Housing Authority’s Third Annual Senior Benefit and Entitlement Fair. More than 30 service providers were on hand to share a wealth of health related information, as well as useful resources with the seniors.

Senior Benefit and Entitlement Fair Speakers
Hundreds of NYCHA seniors gathered to learn how to take good care of their health.
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

This year’s fair was especially notable because of the number of health screenings available on the spot for diseases such as: high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, Hepatitis C and prostate and foot problems. There were even free flu shots.

"The theme for today’s fair is ‘Taking Charge Of Your Health,’" said NYCHA Resident Support Services Director Richard Greene, as he addressed the 1,200 seniors gathered in the enormous outdoor skating rink at the start of the program. "Today, we’re going to work with you to try to accomplish this task." Mr. Greene thanked the NYCHA Board for their support, as well as a long list of sponsors whose contributions covered the entire cost of the fair.

Senior Benefit and Entitlement Fair Speakers
From left to right: DFTA Commissioner Edwin Méndez-Santiago, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Dr. Nilsa Guiterrez, Chief Medical Officer Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Region II, NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez, and Ann Rocker, President & CEO North River Community Environmental Review Board.
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

"One-third of our households are headed by seniors, noted NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez. "We think it’s important to provide you with services." Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott brought greetings from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and vowed that the City would preserve and expand senior services. "You were there sacrificing for us to make our lifestyles better; now it’s our responsibility to repay that."

The Deputy Mayor was followed by Department for the Aging (DFTA) Commissioner Edwin Méndez-Santiago. DFTA operates more than 100 senior centers on NYCHA property, and collaborates with the Housing Authority on senior housing initiatives. "We’re building more and more senior housing in New York largely because of the advocacy of DFTA," said NYCHA Chairman Hernandez, as he introduced Commissioner Méndez-Santiago. The DFTA Commissioner encouraged seniors to take advantage of all of the available screenings and resources, and they did just that.

Eighty-two-year-old Dorothy Poindexter of St. Nicholas Houses in Manhattan came to get her blood pressure checked. Seventy-six-year-old Hattie Blaine of the Douglass Houses also in Manhattan came to have her hearing tested; and 86-year-old Jean Cauch of Pelham Parkway in the Bronx came for one of the most popular services, to get her Senior I.D. replaced.

By Eileen Elliott
October 5, 2007