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First-ever Aging Improving District in Bronx

By

Bronx Times, October 15, 2012

Senior Brunny Jonquera wishes for cheaper Medicaid co-pays. Her friend Tereza Frank, 77, yearns for cleaner streets while 72-year-old Dorca Soba hopes for safer housing.

The golden girls, living independently, might finally have their voices heard after all.

They stopped by the Sue Ginsberg Center at Pelham Parkway Houses on Friday, October 4 to hear Councilman Jimmy Vacca talk about the Bronx’s first-ever Aging Improvement District designed to enhance the lives of senior citizens. There are four aging district’s scattered outside the borough.

“We have to make life better for senior citizens,” said Vacca, addressing the aged.

The program rests fittingly within Pelham Parkway Houses, a Housing Authority complex densely populated by seniors referred to as a naturally occurring retirement community. But instead of simply improving health care and housing needs, the effort tackles several areas, including transportation needs and business services.

To get a clearer picture of senior’s needs, Vacca has enlisted the help of over twenty organizations around his district to seek input from the aged community. Groups like The Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Einsten College of Medicine plan to share their expertise in improving seniors lives, and later in implementing changes. They’ve already met at Vacca’s office recently for an informational gathering. They’ll meet regularly to bounce ideas.

“All these agencies are working together for you to get around,” said Vacca. “We’re here to make our centers more programmatically attractive.”

Vacca was joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the winner of 80th Assembly District’s Democratic primary, Mark Gjonaj. The city council partnered with The New York Academy of Medicine to jump-start the program, eventually becoming part of the World Health Organization’s movement to create “age-friendly cities.”

The council turned to the New York Academy of Medicine to lead the effort, soliciting input from the senior community.

So far aging districts are working, according to Quinn. Among the changes were special swimming pool hours for mature adults, and in some cases, free laundry delivery for seniors who live in walk-up apartments.

“None of these ideas came from me or Jimmy,” said Quinn. “They came from the seniors in the neighborhoods.”

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