LeadingAge Steps Up Campaign for Affordable Housing for Older Americans

PRESS RELEASE | July 14, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

Multi-organization July 15 National “Housing Is Infrastructure” Call-In Day Presses Congress to Help Millions of Older Americans Who Can’t Afford Housing

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

July 14, 2021, Washington, DC—LeadingAge is stepping up calls on Congress to take on the crisis in affordable housing for older adults by expanding the supply of rental housing as reflected in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan infrastructure proposal for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs.

As part of a national July 15 “call-in” day with the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), LeadingAge members from across the country are contacting their representatives this week to urge them to include increased support for affordable housing for older adults in any infrastructure legislation. LeadingAge represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers.

“Congress can’t turn its back on millions of older Americans who are stuck for years on affordable housing waiting lists, living in places they can’t afford, skipping meals and medicine to pay the rent, or cast into homelessness,” said Katie Smith Sloan, President and CEO of LeadingAge. “Two out of three older adults who need affordable senior housing can’t get it.”

Sloan cited polling recently commissioned by LeadingAge showing that across party lines, Americans overwhelmingly support proposed investments for older adults:

  • 86% support public investment in housing and support for low-income older adults to address the shortage and waiting lists that lead to homelessness, instability, and skipping meals and medicine to pay rent.
  • 89% support public investment in affordable home care services to help older adults with essential needs like bathing and dressing, medication management, transportation, and basic daily chores.
  • 85% agree that every American has a right to receive a basic level of housing, healthcare, and essential support regardless of age.

In a June 21 meeting with LeadingAge officials, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said that housing funding “cannot afford to be left out” of infrastructure negotiations.

“For far too long, we have failed to adequately invest in affordable senior housing,” added Linda Couch, LeadingAge’s vice president of housing policy. “Congress must seize this moment and ensure that any infrastructure plan includes at least the President’s request for $2 billion for new homes under HUD’s successful Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program in the reconciliation bill. Ignoring the opportunity to address nationwide affordable housing shortages would fail communities and older adults.”

LeadingAge’s requests are drawn from LeadingAge’s Blueprint for a Better Aging Infrastructure, which calls on the federal government to:

  • Expand the supply of affordable senior housing by investing $2.5 billion in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 202 program to build 27,000 homes.
  • Invest $1 billion for more than 3,800 three-year Service Coordinator contracts for HUD-assisted senior communities that currently lack one. Only half of HUD-assisted senior housing has a Service Coordinator, the linchpin between residents and home and community-based services.
  • Provide a $1 billion pool of capital funds under an Age Friendly Retrofit program for HUD-assisted senior housing and the homes within them to help current and future older adult households live in independent housing for as long as they choose to do so.
  • Provide internet access in affordable housing to ensure the more than 2.2 million older adults in federally subsidized affordable housing buildings have basic internet access.

Housing Providers Illuminate the Crisis

LeadingAge has recently hosted press events with housing providers who underscored how dire the problem is for millions of older adults.

  • Amy Schectman, President and CEO, 2Life Communities in Boston, MA, said “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.”
  • Jasmine Borrego, President of TELACU Residential Management in Los Angeles, CA, noted a waiting list of 300-500 people for a 75-unit building: “We do not have sufficient housing for people who live from social security check to social security check. People who don’t have affordable housing are paying 50%-80% of their income to pay rent.”
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 encompasses the entire continuum of aging services. 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.