Furlough's End is Good, if Temporary, News; Our Challenges Remain

Press Release | January 26, 2019 | by Lisa Sanders

While end of longest-ever federal government shutdown brings relief, LeadingAge's concerns and commitment to our funding objectives remain 

We are glad Congress and the President have reached agreement on a measure to end the partial shutdown and reopen affected federal agencies for three weeks. It is good news, of course, for so many people across the country, said LeadingAge president and CEO Katie Smith Sloan. 

For LeadingAge members who provide government subsidized, affordable housing for low-income older adults -- providers like Alma Ballard, executive director of the Family Housing Management Co. – this is particularly welcome relief.

Ms. Ballard is one of many among our members who because of the shutdown had to tap reserves after HUD said it would not renew contracts expiring in December.

That raised concerns for Diana Siarto, a 70-year old former waitress and retired Las Vegas pit boss who lives in an apartment operated by Family Housing Management. As The Washington Post reported, she, and thousands of other low income older adults around the country, depend on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-funded programs: “We’ve worked all our lives. We’re all low-income. We have no place else to go. We’re literally out on the streets if these places shut down.”

LeadingAge is concerned that the comfort brought by this interim deal to reopen the government may not be long lasting. Remember that about a month ago, when the possibility of another continuing resolution loomed large, HUD said then that the FY18 funding levels would not be sufficient to sustain 202/PRAC renewal costs, which rose significantly between FY18 and FY19, through January 2019.

A continuing resolution (CR) would provide only the amount of funding for 2019 that housing programs received last year; last year’s spending levels would not cover this year’s increased costs.

Our position: this has to be the last CR.

We urge HUD to get expired contracts renewed as soon as furloughed employees return to their desks, and ensure that those contracts due to expire in February 2019 are renewed before the 15th.

And, Congress: before the current three-week spending measure expires, pass a HUD spending bill covering the rest of this fiscal year in order to restore stability to programs that house older people who have no other resources.