An alarm over lack of aid

New York state has often noted in recent years its concerns for the work force and the needy. In recent years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has established a higher minimum wage, which continues to increase each year, and has proposed free tuition to those of lower incomes to State University of New York institutions.

Where the state has not helped, however, is with the senior population. Last week, Women’s Christian Association Home administrator Tammy McCool noted New York’s failure to authorize an increase in the Supplemental Security Income rate that has left approximately 12,000 low-income seniors statewide, unable to live on their own, with few residential options. That is taking a toll on the population affected as well as the institutions that serve those seniors.

“New York’s assisted living industry for low-income seniors is in crisis,” said McCool, who oversees the Fredonia facility. “Over a decade ago there were a number of residences in the area that accepted SSI payment for services. However, that number has dwindled due to the state’s inadequate SSI rate.”

That current rate, which was set at $41 in 2007, is not acceptable.

On the increase in minimum wage alone — to $10.40 an hour in 2018 — there is a no way a facility can care for a senior on $41 per day for seven days a week and 24 hours a day. On payroll alone for one day, that is $249.60 without benefits. It certainly does not contribute to meals, heat or cleaning services for those residents.

New York state’s business environment is supposed to be improving. Unfortunately, however, some seniors are suffering.