AARP Disrupt Disparities

As the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement showed us, progress comes – sometimes quickly and dramatically, but more often through tough, unglamorous, incremental policy work,” said NAACP New York President Hazel Dukes. “The time to get to work is long past, and we stand proudly with AARP to support New York’s 50+ people of color.”

One of several speakers during AARP’s media luncheon on January 30, 2020 at the Yale Club in New York City, Dr. Dukes echoed the sentiments of many leaders from diverse communities in attendance. At the event, AARP and its partner groups released Disrupt Disparities 2.0, a conglomeration of research into gentrification, prescription drug affordability, family caregiving, and utility costs.

Disrupting Disparities 2.0, Solutions for New Yorkers Age 50 +, the second phase of a multiyear initiative by AARP New York, the Asian American Federation, the Hispanic Federation, the NAACP of New York, and the New York Urban League, examines disparities impacting New Yorkers of color aged 50+ in the areas of health, economic security, and livability.

The takeaway of the research is that older New Yorkers of color are more threatened by gentrification, more likely to skip prescription medications because of cost, more burdened by utility bills, and more financially squeezed by the responsibilities of family caregiving than older, white New Yorkers.

“Whether it’s housing, prescription drugs, utilities, or caring for a loved one, older New Yorkers of color face longer odds when it comes to affordability and access,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We’ve made significant progress since we launched ‘Disrupt Disparities’ in 2018, but ‘Disrupt Disparities 2.0’ shows we need to do more to level the playing field so all New Yorkers have equal opportunities.”

“Most striking among the findings is the dearth of data about the Asian-American community on key topics like housing, utilities, and caregiving,” said Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo. “The initial Disrupt Disparities reports drove significant changes in state policies that will improve the lives of New York’s Hispanic population,” said Hispanic Federation President & CEO Frankie Miranda.

“While some progress has been made, we have much work to do to break the equity barriers that older adults who are black or of color face in health, economic security, and livability,” said Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez of East Harlem.

Despite the eye-opening statistics uncovered in the research, ARRP and its partners are making a difference. New York Urban League President Arva Rice summed it up this way, “We are proud of what this initiative has already accomplished, and look forward to implementing more policy changes to close the gaps and ensure equality for all, regardless of race or ethnicity.”