Aging Services Leaders Condemn Efforts to Strip Out Support for Older Americans

PRESS RELEASE | May 27, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

“At a time when millions of older adults are facing hardships, it’s unconscionable that anyone would even think of turning their back on them.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders, lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

May 27, 2021, Washington, DC—As GOP Congressional leaders propose stripping out support for older Americans from the Administration’s infrastructure package, aging services leaders and providers insisted that funding for safe and affordable housing, and home and community health care is non-negotiable—as they detailed a crisis that is leaving millions of older adults homeless, on waiting lists for years, or skipping meals and medicine to pay rent. The Senate Republican plan released this morning would eliminate more than $600 billion in support for older Americans.

“It’s an outrage to hear that some Congressional leaders want to strip every dollar for affordable housing, and home and community-based services for older Americans out of the legislation,” said Katie Smith Sloan, President and CEO of LeadingAge, a national association of more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers. “At a time when millions of older adults are facing hardships, it’s unconscionable that anyone would even think of turning their back on them.”

“Millions of older people—a large proportion of them people of color—can’t afford a safe place to live where they can access the services they need,” she added. “As our population ages, the demand for affordable senior housing is only going to grow. We simply don’t have enough supply to meet that need.”

“Any infrastructure bill that goes forward must provide for safe and affordable housing designed specifically for older Americans, as well as home and community based services,” she added.

This week, LeadingAge advocates around the country echoed that demand, contacting their Members of Congress to call on them to deliver critical support for affordable senior housing by:

  • Increasing the stock of federally assisted senior housing
  • Providing for age-friendly retrofits to existing housing
  • Expanding the number of onsite service coordinators
  • Supporting broadband internet access critical to providing telehealth and fighting social isolation

The Administration’s proposal to Congress includes $400 billion for home and community support services, along with $213 million to support affordable housing that could deliver those needed investments in housing and services for older Americans living on low incomes. Just yesterday, the Administration released a fact sheet detailing more about the need for affordable senior housing and the difference it can make.

LeadingAge released an updated needs report documenting the growing care affordability and access crisis facing older Americans—and the need for more government reimbursement to enable care providers to meet this demand. By 2029, it’s estimated that 54% of middle-income older adults won’t be able to afford the housing and long-term care they need.

The telepresser video can be found here.

 

Context on Affordable Housing From Providers & Experts (Biographical information here.)

  • Amy Schectman, President and CEO, 2Life Communities, Boston, MA
    • “Our residents worked long and hard throughout most of their lives. They did everything right—they worked hard and saved diligently. Now, they have simply outlived their savings and need a place to call home.”
    • “When older adults pay more than 50% of their income on housing costs, they forgo proper food or medicine. Some sleep on their friends’ couches, live in substandard housing, or move in with their children. Waiting lists of affordable housing often last 7 or 8 years, which means thousands of days of anxiety and uncertainty.”
    • “Without funding to develop more homes, it would take 37 years to clear our waiting list. Unfortunately, many will die before we are able to welcome them into our community.”
  • Linda Couch, Vice President for Housing Policy, LeadingAge
    • “Given today’s long waiting lists and the impact COVID has had on older adults, and the clear connection between stable housing and health, Congress has to make this a priority. It’s incredibly disappointing to see that the Republican counteroffer not only excludes affordable housing funding, but also relies on taking back much-needed relief dollars already provided by Congress.”
    • “The $2 billion investment proposed by the White House for HUD’s Section 202 program could produce about 22,000 desperately needed homes across the country.”
  • Kimberly Black King, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development, Volunteers of America National Services, Alexandria, VA
    • “This is one of the biggest issues facing our country in the coming years. Our nation is at a critical point for putting in place the affordable housing options, accessibility features, and in-home care services that will be needed over the next two decades.”
    • “The HUD 202 program has historically proven to be the most powerful tool to support the cost of Resident Coordinators, whose work is essential to helping older people stay healthy and cared for. Without that support, affordable housing owners like VOA have to find those dollars elsewhere and that is difficult to do while maintaining affordable, low rents.”
  • Janeth Badillo-Mendez, Resident Services Coordinator, TELACU Residential Management, Los Angeles, CA
    • “Resident service coordinators are especially important for families who need extra help—and also for residents who do not have family members to turn to.”
    • “We provide referrals to residents for food stamps, meals on wheels, free bus passes, and ADA transportation. We also monitor their health, assist with the Medicaid process, help them schedule and keep their appointments, and manage their medications.”
About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old. Our membership, which now includes the providers of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, encompasses the continuum of services for people as they age, including those with disabilities. We bring together the most inventive minds in the field to lead and innovate solutions that support older adults wherever they call home. For more information visit leadingage.org.