Rendering of Brooke House, a 2Life Communities affordable supportive senior housing project that will create 127 supportive senior apartments in Boston. (Image courtesy of 2Life Communities)
Brooke House, a 2Life Communities affordable supportive senior housing project, will create 127 supportive senior apartments in Boston. (Rendering courtesy of 2Life Communities)

Twenty-five nonprofit affordable senior housing providers, including 11 members of LeadingAge, are on the receiving end of $160.1 million from the federal government to create new housing or redevelop existing housing.

The awards, announced Tuesday, will fund 1,262 new Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly deeply rent-assisted units for low and very low-income older adults. Several grantees will create mixed-income communities, building 526 additional affordable and market rate units, bringing the total to 1,788 homes funded.

Funding will come in two forms — capital advances to cover the cost of developing, acquiring or rehabilitating housing, and project rental assistance contracts, or PRAC, to cover the difference between resident’s contributions toward rent and the cost of operating the project. Capital advances do not have to be repaid as long as the housing remains available to very low-income older adults for at least 40 years.

“HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program, unique for its focus on older adults and a demonstrated success in ensuring positive outcomes, is a program we fought hard to revive,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said. The 11 LeadingAge members included in the awards received a collective $83 million, according to the association. 

LeadingAge Vice President of Housing and Aging Services Policy Linda Couch said the announcement is reason to celebrate, particularly when future funding for affordable housing programs is uncertain. “At the same time, we intend to keep the pressure on,” Couch said. “Worst-case housing needs for older adults increased by more than 1 million households from 2008 to 2021, and the need is growing.”

Meeting economic needs

2Life Communities was one of the organizations to receive funding and will use its $7.6 million award to create 127 affordable senior apartments in Boston.

2Life Vice President and acting CEO Lizbeth Heyer told McKnight’s Senior Living that the Brooke House project was conceived under the organization’s mission-driven commitment to help older adults to age in community.

“Together with 2Life’s signature village center, the ground floor of Brooke House will have a day care center with intergenerational programming opportunities and a satellite space for the Harvard Street neighborhood health center to provide on-site health services,” Heyer said. “We’re passionate believers that every older adult should have the opportunity to live a full life of connection and purpose in a dynamic, supported environment.”

2Life achieves that mission through affordable housing that meets the true economic needs of older adults, and creating communities that have programs, spaces and staffing that “bring our communities to life,” Heyer said. The concept, she added, keeps people living with 2Life for the duration of their lives because supports and services are delivered to older adults in their homes. 

“We’re super-focused on meeting the economic needs of older adults, paying close attention to the economics of aging and making sure there is alignment between subsidy sources that create communities and the economic needs of people who need and deserve to be served,” Heyer said, adding that the Section 202 program comes with capital dollars to build the building and ongoing operating support. “The 202 program, coupled with PRAC, is key to meeting the true economic needs of the vast majority of older adults.”

In addition to the HUD grant, 2Life received a financial award from the city of Boston and now is working with the state to secure the final subsidies necessary so that 100% of the units can support low-income older adults.

Among the other award recipients are CSI Support & Development, Christian Church Homes, National Church Residences, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan and St. Mary Development Corp.