Soon elderly, poor and disabled residents of Glendale who rely on Social Security benefits will have to travel to Rego Park for service instead of down the street.
The neighborhood office, at 67-10 Myrtle Ave., is being consolidated with the Rego Park office, according to Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5, who condemned the measure at a May 11 meeting.
“We protest this vigorously,” he said, adding that he had sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) earlier in the day requesting help. “We have asked the congressman to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
In the letter, Arcuri asks Weiner to flex some political muscle to try and save the office.
“We strongly urge you to use your substantial influence to keep the Glendale Social Security office open,” the letter said.
But the U.S. Social Security Administration said the consolidation is a belt-tightening measure that will save $3 million over the next 10 years.
“have to start exonomicize because of our budget situation,” said spokesman John Shallman. “The two offices themselves are less than three miles apart, and there are four other offices nearby.”
Shallman said that the SSA looked at the patrons of the office and found that more than 50 percent drove. In addition, many of the services that the office provides can be done online.
And a bigger, consolidated office in Rego Park will provide better service, he said.
But that did not sit well with Glendale residents who think of the office as a lifeline.
“I think this is no good,” said Dinorah Calderon, a senior citizen who relies on checks from the office. “I don’t have a car, I can’t drive and I haven’t taken the bus in years.”
Calderon said now she can walk to the office but had no idea how to get to the Rego Park location.
According to several mapping websites, even the quickest route — the Q58 bus to the R train — takes nearly an hour.
Alvin Cantrell, who is trying to get on SSI disability for a back injury, already has to come from Putnam Avenue in Ridgewood.
He would have nearly an hour commute to the office as well, which he says would be hard on both his injury and his wallet.
“It makes it worse. I have to come to do interviews and they got me on public assistance,” he said.
The neighborhood’s most vulnerable residents, like Calderon and Cantrell, will be the ones affected by the move, according to Arcuri’s letter to Weiner.
“This would be a tremendous hardship to the senior and poor residents of our district that currently flock to the Glendale location for their services,” the letter said.
In response, Weiner held a press conference in front of the office Tuesday, and sent a letter of his own to SSA Regional Commissioner Beatrice Disman.
“My older neighbors rely on ... accessibility to an office that provides information and help about their benefits,” the letter said. “I urge you to keep the current office open or to find a new, easily-accessible location for an office in the area.”
The office is set to close in July.Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community News Group
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