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Jon Kaiman touts ‘Project Independence’ for seniors

Jon Kaiman says he wants to create a

Jon Kaiman says he wants to create a federal program for seniors that's similar to North Hempstead Town's Project Independence. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Democratic congressional contender Jon Kaiman said that if elected he will propose legislation to create a federal program similar to one he initiated in North Hempstead when he was town supervisor to help seniors become more self-reliant so they can remain in their homes.

Kaiman, who is in a five-way Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Steve Israel’s Third District seat, made the proposal at the Great Neck Senior Center at a news conference attended by about 40 seniors.

Kaiman said he wants to use the town’s Project Independence as the model for a nationwide program, dubbed Project Independence America. Kaiman said he would seek $8 million to 10 million in initial funding to create pilot projects in a handful of communities.

The town program aims to link seniors by telephone or email to health care, social workers, taxi rides to doctors, shopping and home-repair services.

“What we’ve done in North Hempstead has helped people age in place,” said Kaiman, who said 35,000 people have received help from the town program since it was started in 2004.

“Sometimes, you need to fix a faucet, repair a banister or replace a light bulb, which can be dangerous,” Kaiman said. “This brings all the programs that exist to your front door.”

The House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans, but Kaiman said his proposal is bipartisan.

“There’s no Republican or Democratic way to help our seniors,” he said.

Meanwhile, Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern, another Democratic contender in the Third District, has won backing from Equality Long Island, a political arm of the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.

“Steve Stern has a proven track record . . . always been there for our community,” in supporting providing housing and services, the group said.

Another Democratic contender, former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, has won the backing of 32BJ SEIU, a union that presents health care workers.

“Tom Suozzi has a track record of fighting for working families on Long Island and will fight for them in Congress,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “Our members were impressed by his commitment to protecting workers’ rights and creating more good jobs with good benefits that working families need in Queens, Long Island and across our country.”

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