Proposed national legislation would enable affordable senior housing providers to retrofit and improve accessibility at their properties to better support older adult residents who are raising their grandchildren.
The Grandfamily Housing Act would create a pilot program through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide grants to Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 8 project-based rental assistance and help to other affordable housing providers.
Along with physical improvements, grants also could be used to employ a grandfamily resident service coordinator to offer insite intergenerational services, including afterschool programming, tutoring and healthcare services.
More than 2.7 million children are being raised by grandparents and other relatives, according to the Government Accountability Office. The opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an increase in those numbers.
The majority of subsidized and market-rate senior housing does not permit children to live in buildings, and few intergenerational housing programs have support and resources to meet challenges such as financial struggles, preparing a home for a child and navigating school systems.
“Grandparents and caregivers who take up the mantle to raise children and provide them with safe and stable homes should be supported every step of the way,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), chairman of the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, said in a statement. “This legislation would ensure grandfamilies are able to live in homes that are safe and accessible and ensure both older adults and younger children alike can thrive in their communities.”
The bill was introduced by Casey, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
US Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) previously introduced the bill in 2021 following a 2019 roundtable he attended about challenges facing older adults raising grandchildren. The act would build on the 2018 Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act by providing federal funding dedicated to supporting grandparents raising grandchildren.
McGovern said that grandparent-led households face unique challenges, including delaying retirement, accessing their grandchildren’s medical records and securing age-appropriate housing.
“Grandparents are heroes and often take on this role unexpectedly — providing love, support and stability, many times for children experiencing trauma,” McGovern said. “Our bill will help grant-led households access their resources they deserve and navigate the complexities of raising a grandchild.