Editor’s note: The deadline has been extended to May 18.

Confusion over whether not-for-profit affordable seniors housing providers are eligible for loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program has providers in danger of either being penalized if they accepted funds inappropriately or of missing out on funds if they don’t apply because they believe they aren’t eligible.

And today is the deadline for all PPP borrowers to return funds without penalty if they received funds for which they are not eligible. An original May 7 deadline was extended.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza, the administrator of the Small Business Administration, have not responded to a May 1 letter from LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan that sought clarification, according to the organization.

“LeadingAge understands that several of our 501(c)(3) not-for-profit affordable housing organization members have received Paycheck Protection Program loans. In addition, guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests that the department is taking steps to remove any HUD regulatory barriers for affordable housing communities seeking Paycheck Protection Program loans,” Sloan said in her letter. “At the same time, our members have also heard mixed feedback from federal agencies and from public discussion of the program as to whether they are actually eligible for these loans.”

For-profit housing companies are not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, but LeadingAge believes that not-for-profit affordable housing organizations should be eligible.

“While 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations are held to the size limitations of the Paycheck Protection Program (e.g., the 500 employee limit), entities such as not-for-profit affordable housing organizations are not, by virtue of their 501(c)(3) status, small business concerns and therefore should not be excluded from this vital program for this reason,” Sloan said.

The survival of not-for-profit affordable senior housing providers is “critical,” she said, noting that LeadingAge member companies often have two- to five-year waiting lists for their communities and two-thirds of older adults eligible for housing assistance do not receive it because the programs aren’t big enough to meet the need.

“We cannot afford to lose any not-for-profit senior housing provider because of this pandemic,” Sloan said.