Tuesday, September 27th marked the third successful Senior Sound-Off hosted by the Senior Advisory Coalition (S.A.C.). The latest Sound-Off, which gives District seniors the opportunity to voice concerns and questions to their respective Councilmember, was held at the Edgewood Terrace housing complex in Ward 5. Previous Sound-Offs have recently been held in Wards 1 and 8. The Ward 5 Sound-Off saw an excellent turnout of more than 40 motivated older adults and ANC Commissioners. We were also pleased to be joined by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, as well as Tony Goodman, Chief of Staff for At-Large Councilmember David Grosso. Their commitment to recognizing and addressing the issues facing D.C.’s growing senior population is genuinely appreciated by the S.A.C.
Ward 5 seniors raised several issues at Tuesday’s Sound-Off, including inadequate transportation, affordable housing, and difficulty accessing quality home care services. Many of these issues are not new to the S.A.C., but we were nonetheless eager to hear seniors share detailed complaints and offer specific suggestions for improvement. Several women expressed concerns about the Ward 5 Metro Bus routes and the limitations of the Seabury Connector. Additionally, another district resident suggested in-house health clinics be built in senior residential developments, to avoid transportation barriers when accessing medical care. Consultant Heather Foote shared the news that the thriving Transport DC program suffered recent budget cutbacks, which will result in more limited hours and will only be available for medical and work-related trips.
There was an overall sentiment that Ward 5 seniors’ needs are not fully being met, but also a sense of optimism that changes could be made through unity and self-advocacy. This discourse was well received by Councilmember McDuffie, who reaffirmed his dedication to the aging Ward 5 population and thanked the seniors for their lifelong contributions to the District as a whole. However, McDuffie also conveyed his concerns related to District budget constraints, and how he wishes he had the funding to do more. McDuffie ended the meeting by stressing his “open-door policy” and urged everyone in the room to continue to be vocal and keep him informed on their grievances.
The Senior Sound-Off, which is set up like a town hall style forum, provides an excellent opportunity for seniors to directly address their Councilmembers and pressure them to seek changes that improve the quality of life for older people in D.C. Currently, seniors make up roughly ⅙ of the D.C. population, and their presence is growing. They are also living longer and more of them are choosing to age in their home, which means they require robust community support services. We look forward to continuing our Senior Sound-Offs and Advocacy Trainings throughout the city, and hope to see you at the next one. As Councilmember McDuffie expressed at our last Sound-Off, “I don’t think anyone speaks better for seniors than seniors,” and we couldn’t agree more!
For more information on the S.A.C.’s work, visit www.dcasac.org.