EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Some senior citizens in East Cleveland are upset after hearing their local gathering place is closing its doors for good.
Residents tell 19 Action News that the
on Euclid Avenue will close down Wednesday. The seniors at the center also say they only received a three-day notice their center was closing and Mayor Gary Norton didn't give them an opportunity to explore other options.
Many gathered at the center on Tuesday morning to protest and discuss their complaints and demands. The seniors say there's been no heat in the building since April and with 20-degree days in December, it takes wearing hats, coats and gloves to stay warm inside.
"The employees are being laid off. We weren't told that the, the council wasn't being told that. This is craziness," said East Cleveland Councilman Nathaniel Martin.
The Helen S. Brown Center has stood as a pillar for East Cleveland seniors since 1972. The center provides hot meals, activities, and transportation for 500 seniors a week.
"It's a sad day, because you form friendships, and we probably won't see each other ever again," said Mary Odom.
Seniors at the center say they've contacted the mayor's office several times, but received no response. The center's employees were notified by the city that they were being laid off three days before Christmas.
Mayor Norton responded to our requests and released the following statement concerning the closure:
Due to federal and state funding cuts, as well as declining local revenue, many cities face tough budget cuts. Our city is no different. We are committed to our seniors and have maintained programs at the Helen S. Brown Senior center as long as possible; however, lack of revenue in 2015 has led to the difficult decision to close our center. It is our hope that senior services agencies will help our seniors fill the gap in service.
Representatives for the center say they plan to seek funding to keep it open, but the facility will be closed after Tuesday night.