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Continuing to meet our nation’s senior supportive housing needs, LeadingAge is encouraged by the administration’s proposals to increase opportunities to merge services and the HUD Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program to allow seniors to age in place.With the passage of LeadingAge’s signature section 202 reform legislation the president has once again requested funding for the development of new Section 202 units.
The administration’s recommendation acknowledges the needs of the growing senior population and the success of the Section 202 program in providing supportive housing communities for vulnerable, very low-income seniors.Section 202 provides capital development grants and rental assistance contracts to not-for-profit housing sponsors to develop, build and maintain multifamily housing. It is the only program dedicated to developing supportive housing for seniors with very low incomes.
These communities serve as a platform for the successful delivery of home and community based services. The combination of affordable housing and supportive services is often the only alternative that low and moderate income seniors have to nursing home care.Years of level funding have resulted in fewer and fewer Section 202 units being built each year. Our elderly population will double by 2030. Demand is growing, cost effective options are needed for very low income seniors and development is desperately needed to spur the economy.
The Section 202 program will pay dividends by reducing long term health care costs. This program can prevent early entry into institutional settings funded by Medicaid and forestall repeat hospitalizations and emergency room visits, saving Medicare dollars.There are 3.6 million seniors living below the poverty level. The HUD 2009 Worst Case Housing Needs study includes 1.33 million seniors with worst case housing needs. There is a documented increase in the elderly and near elderly who are homeless. There are still 10 seniors on the waiting list for every Section 202 unit that becomes available, according to AARP.
A 2008 HUD study recommends funding 10,000 units of Section 202 housing each year over the next 10-15 years to meet the demand. It is clear that a comprehensive national policy for affordable housing and services is needed or the current senior housing crisis will intensify.
To meet our nation’s senior supportive housing needs, LeadingAge urges Congress to take the following actions: