Budget text written on wooden block with stacked coins

(Credit: Nora Carol Photography / Getty Images)

Failure to finalize funding for federal affordable housing programs “wreaks havoc” on the ability of those programs to deliver services and for the older adults who rely on them, according to LeadingAge.

In a Thursday letter to House and Senate appropriators, LeadingAge urged Congress to finalize the fiscal year 2022 Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Continuing resolutions keeping federal programs funded at previous levels could create insufficient contract renewal resources and prevent providers from receiving funding necessary to operate their communities, the association said. 

The current continuing resolution keeping federal programs funded at last year’s levels expires on Feb 18. LeadingAge is asking Congress to forgo another continuing resolution and adopt a final FY22 HUD funding bill.

“Timely and sufficient funding is critical to the more than 1.92 million older adult households served by HUD’s programs today, and the millions of older adults eligible for affordable housing but who cannot access it because the programs are too small to serve the existing and growing need,” LeadingAge Vice President of Housing Policy Linda Couch wrote. “Continuing resolutions wreak havoc on HUD affordable housing programs.”

Couch also laid out LeadingAge’s priorities for fiscal year 22 affordable senior housing funding, including expanding the supply of Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly homes, full and timely renewal for Project Rental Assistance Contracts and Project-Based Rental Assistance and service coordinator contracts, additional service coordinators, and improvements to the Rental Assistance Demonstration program for Section 202 / PRACs.

LeadingAge supports the $700 million proposed in HUD’s 2022 budget request to provide annual rental assistance to approximately 115,000 households headed by older adults  in the 2,740 properties with contracts requiring renewal or amendments through mid-November.

Expanding the supply of affordable senior housing is a top housing policy priority for the association. The House’s FY22 HUD bill proposed $205 million for new Section 202 capital advances and operating subsidies, which could produce more than 2,200 new homes. 

House also pointed to a biannual HUD report to Congress last fall that showed that the number of older adult, very-low-income renter households with worst case needs exploding between 2017 and 2019, increasing by 82% from 1.328 million households to 2.241 million households. 

To meet the need, LeadingAge also supports the House bill’s expansion of budget-based service coordinators — only 45% of all Section 202 communities have service coordinators today. 

Research has found service coordinators lower hospital use, increase higher value healthcare use (e.g. primary care), have success reaching high-risk populations and result in fewer nursing home transfers,” Couch wrote.

LeadingAge supports “strong funding” for every HUD affordable housing program, Couch wrote, because “every HUD housing program helps older adults.”