By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. joined other city prosecutors in asking the city to reconsider cutting funds to the city agency responsible for referring cases of elder abuse to authorities.
Vance Jr. said that while budget cuts are unavoidable in today's economy, elders are the "fastest growing category of New Yorkers" and they're "particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation."
"Any substantive reduction of funds to agencies that are already coping with an increase in the number of elderly clients, many of whom are at risk of being physically or financially abused, would be devastating," the DA wrote to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a letter dated June 10.
The city has proposed cutting $800,000 to the Department of Aging and its partners in its current budget. The Department of Aging provides services, referrals and other support to the city's elderly.
Vance's office handles approximately 700 cases of elder abuse per year and has a unit dedicated to prosecuting crimes against older victims. Vance said his office depends on the DOA and the nonprofits it works with for case referrals for victims who are often unable to help themselves or who may be unaware that their case can be classified as abuse.
The Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City said the Department of Aging and the non-profit organizations it contracts refers 1,000 cases of elder abuse to authorities annually. The organization estimates that the number of total abuse cases is about 24 times the number of reported incidents.
One of the most common forms of elder abuse are financial exploitation, abuse of power of attorney and domestic abuse, according to Vance's office.
The entire budget, which has been shrinking in recent years, will be cut under the mayor's current proposed budget, which is expected to be balanced and passed by the end of the month, a spokesperson for the group said.
The district attorneys of all five boroughs have submitted letters in support of keeping the budget to the aging department, according to CSCS.