Leaders of United Church of Christ-related health and human service ministries will be stepping out for affordable senior housing June 27 at a “Save HUD 202” rally on Capitol Hill.
They will be joining LeadingAge, an association representing nonprofit aging services providers, and others to regain and expand the HUD Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program.
“The HUD Section 202 program was one of the most successful housing programs in HUD’s history,” at one time providing as many as 20,000 new apartments a year, says Laverne Joseph, president and CEO of the nationwide Retirement Housing Foundation.
In 2012, HUD announced a one-year hiatus in funding new Section 202 buildings –– a hiatus that has continued to the present. Asked about the continued hiatus, a HUD official in 2015 asked, “Where’s the outcry?”
“We will be in D.C. on June 27 to respond to that question,” adds Joseph. “We MUST have an ongoing HUD 202 new construction program to address this growing population.”
The rally, part of an overall LeadingAge campaign to save the program, has three goals: prevent cuts to HUD Section 202; maintain 100 percent funding for people served by affordable housing today; and expand funding to create new affordable housing for older adults.
“It is time to step up and ensure that seniors who have given so much to building this country do not die while they wait for adequate housing,” says Susan A. Sinderson, executive vice president of Embrace Living Communities, based in Illinois.
The rapidly expanding population of lower-income older adults faces the challenge of finding affordable, safe housing that can accommodate changing needs as they grow older. The 202 program provides funding for housing with services, which enables older adults to stay in their apartments longer. A recent LeadingAge study showed that affordable housing with services reduces senior citizen hospitalizations by 19 percent.
“The president’s budget proposal projects steep cuts to the HUD 202 program,” says the Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes, headquartered in Marion, Ohio. “This comes at a time when the demand is increasing exponentially. With 10 applicants for every 1 senior affordable housing unit, it is clear this program has been successful and needs more –– not less –– funding.”
Today, millions of older adults eligible for affordable housing do not have access to it because the HUD 202 program is at capacity. According to LeadingAge, of the 4 million older adult households eligible for HUD rental assistance programs, only 1.4 million receive assistance, due to a lack of funding.
“The 202 program for seniors is one of the foremost answers to senior poverty in the country since Social Security,” Daniel says. “Without the 202 program, many seniors are forced to stay in deteriorating homes, substandard rental housing, or worse.”
“It is time to step up and make sure our country’s seniors never have to make a choice between eating, taking medication, and having a place to call home,” adds Sinderson.
The June 27 rally takes place from 1 to 2 p.m. on the U.S. Capitol grounds, at Delaware Avenue NE and Constitution Avenue NE. Those who cannot be in Washington, D.C. to join the CHHSM-member ministries for the rally can participate by hosting local community rallies at the same time.
“I will be in D.C., prior to [the UCC’s] General Synod in Baltimore,” Joseph concludes, “and I hope to see a large turnout of churches, organizations, and individuals who understand how crucial this issue is, not only to individuals but also to our nation’s well-being.
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