Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today to praise the passage of S. 118, the section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act. Earlier this Congress, Senator Schumer and I introduced S. 118 to modernize and improve section 202 housing for seniors across the country. This piece of legislation will help ensure that seniors have accessible, safe and affordable housing so they can live independently and with dignity, while also saving the government money by keeping people out of expensive nursing homes.
HUD's senior housing program, also known as the section 202 program, provides capital grants to enable the development of supportive housing exclusively for the very low-income elderly population. Unfortunately, the 202 program has been unable to address the growing demand. For every available unit, there are ten seniors waiting to move in. Under the current law, the development and preservation of existing 202 communities can be time-consuming, bureaucratic and often require duplicative waivers and special permission from HUD to complete.
Additionally, the program provides rental subsidies and grants to fund supportive services for seniors, such as in-home care and transportation. Over one-third of the section 202 population is considered disabled enough to be at risk for being put in a nursing home. By reducing the need for costly nursing home stays, access to these types of services saves both seniors and the government money.
Modernizing the elderly housing program will promote the preservation and renovation of existing 202 developments. Many properties are in need of both rehabilitation and increased access to services that help seniors to remain in their homes. This legislation will help provide the modernization they desperately need.
I want to thank the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging as well as the Wisconsin Association of Homes and Services for the Aging for being champions of this legislation and for working with us to develop a comprehensive bill that will help meet the growing need for senior housing in this Nation.
I also want to thank Senator Dodd and his staff for all of his efforts to move this legislation. He has always been great to work with and he will be greatly missed next year. And I want to extend my appreciation to Senator Shelby and his staff for working with us on this bill.
Senior citizens deserve to have housing that will help them maintain their independence. It is my hope that with the passage of S. 118, many more Americans have a place to call home during their golden years.