NYC Officials Urge Sec. 202 Response to be on Par with Nursing Homes

Regulation | April 10, 2020 | by Linda Couch

In an April 8 letter to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), two New York City officials, “urge HPD and DOHMH to work together to address the needs of our older New Yorkers living in Section 202 buildings, and to treat them the same as nursing homes or other facilities serving older New Yorkers.”

In an April 8 letter to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), two New York City officials, “urge HPD and DOHMH to work together to address the needs of our older New Yorkers living in Section 202 buildings, and to treat them the same as nursing homes or other facilities serving older New Yorkers.”

The letter, from New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and New York State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, who represents the East Side of Manhattan, is in support of the more than 25,000 older adults living in Section 202 housing in New York City.

“There is no good public health reason for Section 202 buildings to be exempted from similar public health guidelines [as nursing homes and other facilities], and yet that is exactly what is happening today,” the letter says.

“To be sure, this situation is largely due to HUD’s failure to properly serve these residents. While the most recent federal stimulus package did include additional HUD funds to help Section 202 buildings to hire Service Coordinators and defray other operational expenses related to the pandemic, we remain concerned about the lack of precise guidance for these building managers, or their capacity to properly and immediately protect the health of their residents,” the letter says.

In a press statement on the letter, Comptroller Stringer said, “There’s absolutely no reason for the disparity in care and services between seniors living in Section 202 homes and seniors in nursing homes and other similar facilities.  If we fail to act quickly, these older New Yorkers will become dangerously susceptible to the threat of this horrible disease.”

“In order to prevent the worsening of this crisis in New York, I’m proud to join with Comptroller Stringer in calling on the City to immediately adopt a commonsense approach to safeguarding the senior residents of Section 202 housing. Action now could make all the difference for the 25,000 New Yorkers at high-risk of contracting COVID-19,” Assemblymember Epstein said.

The Section 202 needs outlined in the letter mirror LeadingAge’s recommendations to HUD, and include:

  • Conducting an immediate needs assessment of every Section 202 building citywide.
  • Offering tools and resources to help building managers protect senior residents.
  • Clear guidance on handling staff and resident COVID-19 infections.
  • Quarantine protocols.
  • Appropriate restrictions on visitor access.
  • Cleaning and service requirements.
  • Plans for providing food and health care during the pandemic.
  • Assessing needs for increasing supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.
  • Providing additional training for those in contact with residents.
  • Offering access to dedicated medical professionals.