SUPPORTIVE HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY -- (Senate - March 10, 2008)
Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about S. 2736, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act of 2008 introduced with my colleague Senator CHARLES SCHUMER. The HUD section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program is the only program that provides capital grants to nonprofit community organizations for the development of supportive housing and rental assistance exclusively for low-income seniors. This program provides supportive services coupled with housing to allow seniors to remain safely in their homes and age in place. Access to supportive services reduces the occurrence of costly nursing home stays and helps save both seniors and the Federal Government money.
There are over 300,000 seniors living in 6,000 section 202 developments across the country. Unfortunately, the program is far from meeting the growing demand. Approximately 730,000 additional senior housing units will be needed by 2020 to address the future housing needs of low-income seniors. Currently, there are 10 seniors vying for each unit that becomes available. This leaves many seniors waiting years before finding a home. To complicate matters, we are losing older section 202 properties in exchange for high priced condominiums and apartments. As a result, many seniors currently participating in the program could end up homeless.
Congress should act now to plan appropriately for the increased demand that will exist for housing in the coming years and ensure that seniors can find safe, affordable housing. Accordingly, I am pleased to join Senator Schumer in introducing the section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act of 2008. Our legislation would help promote the construction of new senior housing facilities as well as preserve and improve upon existing facilities. The legislation would also support the conversion of existing facilities into assisted living facilities that provide a wide variety of additional supportive health and social services. Under current law, these processes are time consuming, bureaucratic, and far too often require waivers and special permission from HUD to complete. This legislation also provides priority consideration for our homeless seniors seeking a place to call their own. With this legislation, we hope to reduce current impediments and increase the availability of affordable and supportive housing for our nations most vulnerable seniors.
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.
Senior citizens deserve to have housing that will help them maintain their independence. They do not deserve to end up homeless with no where to turn because they are stuck on long waiting lists. This Nation must do a better job at helping Americans have a place to call home during their golden years. I hope my colleagues will join me in my effort to do so.