State funding levels for the $219 million that will be allocated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for affordable housing via the national Housing Trust Fund in fiscal year 2017 were approved June 14 and have been released by HUD. States will disperse the monies locally.

“It’s a big deal,” Linda Couch, director of housing policy and priorities for LeadingAge, told McKnight’s Senior Living, because trust fund monies “are targeted to people with the lowest incomes, and we think that makes a lot of sense given the fact that dollars are so scarce. It’s a great program because the dollars really do go to the people who most need it.”

The affordable housing program was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 but hadn’t been capitalized until last year, when a total of $174 million was allocated to states. The fund is exclusively targeted to help build, preserve and rehabilitate housing for households with “extremely low incomes,” defined as being at or below 30% of area median income, or less than the federal poverty guideline.

An analysis released in February by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that nine states — Alaska, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont — plus the District of Columbia, have indicated that they plan to pay extra attention to the senior population when dispersing their Housing Trust Fund dollars, Couch said.

“And even if that wasn’t the case, just building more affordable housing and preserving existing affordable housing for extremely low-income people is going to benefit older adults. So we think it’s terrific news,” she said.

“We are unhappy with the president’s request to eliminate those resources from the Housing Trust Fund for next year, but we are confident that Congress will maintain the program,” Couch added.

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel applauded HUD’s release of the state-by-state funding information, calling it “an important step towards alleviating the severe shortage of homes affordable to the lowest-income people across the country.”

“Wednesday’s approval strengthens our commitment to work closely with our national and state partners to ensure the funding is used efficiently, effectively and as quickly as possible, creating homes for some of the lowest-income people in the country,” she said in a statement. “We are equally committed to continuing our work to protect, preserve and expand this critical funding source.”