Thursday, July 05, 2012
Senior advocates criticize Honolulu for providing no (zero $) direct services to seniors
“Citing data from the Hawaii State Plan on Aging 2011-2015, the advocates point out that the City and County of Honolulu currently provides its office on aging, the Elderly Affairs Division, NOTHING for direct services to people age 60 and over. This compares to per capita expenditures of $130 per person for Maui County, $60 per person for Hawaii County and $21 per person for Kauai County.”
by Larry Geller
The Policy Advisory Board of Elder Affairs (PABEA) announced, one day in advance of Governor Abercrombie’s planned signing of SB2779 into law, that a coalition of organizations, including AARP Hawaii, PABEA, The Hawaii Family Caregiver Coalition (HFCC), Kokua Council, the Hawaii Alliance of Retired Americans (HARA), and the Honolulu Committee on Aging, which advocate on behalf of Honolulu’s senior citizens, have joined together to highlight that the City and County of Honolulu, in contrast to the other counties, has spent zero on direct services to seniors.
Although unrelated to today’s announcement, Disappeared News notes that SB2779 allocates $1,400,000 for fiscal year 2012-2013 for the Executive Office on Aging administer and establish a statewide aging and disability resource center with sites in each county. Hawaii County has taken the lead in establishing a physical center as a one-stop source of information. Plans currently include the installation of broadband and computer classes for seniors, for example.
Honolulu plans only a website. The trouble is, the older demographic by and large still does not access the web.
Dr. Tony Lenzer, Chair of PABEA’s executive committee, cited data from the : Hawaii State Plan on Aging 2011-2015, pointed out that
The City and County of Honolulu currently provides its office on aging, the Elderly Affairs Division, NOTHING for direct services to people age 60 and over. This compares to per capita expenditures of $130 per person for Maui County, $60 per person for Hawaii County and $21 per person for Kauai County.
Direct services include many home and community based services such as bathing assistance, home delivered meals, and companion services. Like other counties, Honolulu does help seniors with other needs, such as transportation and recreation.
Dr. Lenzer also said:
You know how we say “lucky you live Hawaii,” well if you are 60 or older it’s more like—“lucky you live Maui, Hawaii or Kauai,” because if you live on Oahu you aren’t getting County support for the kinds of services available to your counterparts in all the Neighbor Island counties.
This situation is unacceptable. Our organizations have decided this inequity must be addressed and steps taken to properly fund badly needed programs for our seniors on Oahu.
Although the Legislature has allocated money for statewide centers, the question is whether Honolulu will step up to the plate to begin to provide direct services.
[disclosure: I am president of Kokua Council, one of the organizations reported on above, but the views expressed here are my own.]