Bill Would Greatly Expand HUD Service Coordinators

Legislation | September 15, 2022 | by Linda Couch

On September 15, Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Expanding Service Coordinators Act.

On September 15, Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Expanding Service Coordinators Act.

The bill would authorize funding for at least 350 new service coordinators, urge HUD to include service coordinators in new community budgets, ensure funding for annual training of service coordinators, require a GAO study on rural service coordinators, and extend public service student loan forgiveness to service coordinators. The bill would also authorize new funding for Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency program. ROSS is a HUD program for public housing residents that funds service coordinators to, in part, help connect older adult residents to the services and supports they need to age in community.

“Service coordinators are crucial to the success of federally assisted housing, but programs that fund the employment of service coordinators are currently strained. We desperately need federal funding to maintain and expand our country’s service coordinator workforce to connect marginalized communities to critical social services, such as meal programs, health care, transportation, case management, and job training. This bill will fill that need by providing millions of dollars over the next five years to two primary service coordinator programs – the Multifamily Housing Service Coordinator Program and the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator Program – and incentivizing the employment of service coordinators in new affordable housing projects across the country. Vulnerable members of our communities, including seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals and families, rely on federally assisted housing. The Expanding Service Coordinators Act would bolster our nation’s service coordinator workforce to elevate federally assisted housing in Washington’s Ninth and across the country,” Representative Smith said in a statement.

Representative Smith’s press release also included endorsement and a quote from LeadingAge president and CEO Katie Smith Sloan: “Service coordinators in affordable housing communities for low income older adults help residents access vital services, from transportation to physician appointments, and provide critical help, such as assistance with Medicaid programs, which allows residents to live independently. Research shows that in communities with service coordinators, residents’ use of more expensive taxpayer-funded health care programs is reduced. Yet, despite service coordinators’ proven value, funding for these roles has, for too long, been meager. Mission-driven affordable senior housing providers, including thousands of LeadingAge members, are eager to increase service coordinators’ numbers across their affordable housing portfolio. LeadingAge is grateful for Representative Smith’s introduction of the Expanding Service Coordinators Act, which recognizes the need for and seeks the bold service coordinator expansion older adults deserve.”

Expanding the number of service coordinators in affordable senior housing is a LeadingAge priority. Although the data are murky, likely fewer than half of HUD-assisted senior housing communities have a service coordinator. Research on service coordinators is clear: having them can reduce 911 calls and emergency room visits, shorten hospital stays, and increase primary care contacts.

“Service coordinators in affordable housing communities for low income older adults help residents access vital services that allow residents to live independently–from transportation to physician appointments to critical help, such as assistance with Medicaid programs. Research shows that in communities with service coordinators, residents’ use of more expensive taxpayer-funded health care programs is reduced,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge said in its own statement upon the bill’s introduction. “Yet, despite service coordinators’ proven value, funding for these roles has, for too long, been meager. Mission-driven affordable senior housing providers, including thousands of LeadingAge members, are eager to increase service coordinators’ numbers throughout their communities.”

LeadingAge will be urging all House offices to cosponsor the bill. 

The bill text is here