On Thursday, October 25, health professionals, community leaders, members of the clergy, and educators met at Hostos Community College to participate in a forum titled “Disrupting Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Solutions for New Yorkers 50+.” It was sponsored by AARP New York in conjunction with the Hispanic Federation, the Asian American Federation, NY NAACP, and the NY Urban League. The event was part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

Maggie Castro, AARP’s Associate State Director for Hispanic Outreach, offered welcoming remarks and outlined the purpose of the forum. Noting that New York City’s diverse ethnic communities are not only growing but rapidly aging, Ms. Castro pointed out the staggering disparities experienced by NYC’s 50+ Hispanic, Latino, African-American, and Asian-Pacific Islanders populations in three primary areas: Financial security, health, and livable communities. These include matters related to care-giving, investments for retirement, and affordable housing and public transportation.
Castro stated that the widest disparities between older people of color and their white counterparts can be found in the Bronx. The forum is part of a multi-year AARP initiative to level the playing field, in order for New Yorkers of color to have the same choices as other New Yorkers.

Hostos Provost Christine Mangino also spoke, noting that issues of economic and food insecurity affect not only the borough’s 50+ residents, but also a large percentage of Hostos students.
Hispanic Federation’s Senior Director of Economic Empowerment, Diana Caba, stated the Hispanic and Latino contribution to New York City is huge, which makes the existing disparities all the more shocking, and the need for the day’s “dynamic brainstorming sessions” all the more necessary.

With so much to accomplish, a question arises:  What to do next? Gerri Madrid-Davis, AARP’s Director of Financial Security and Consumer Affairs stressed the fact that a long-term commitment to finding and implementing solutions is required. “The time to act,” she said, “is now.”