HUD Sec. Ben Carson

Approximately 120,000 units across 2,800 affordable senior housing properties now will be eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration through an expansion of the program to include senior housing developments aided through Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Project Rental Assistance Contracts, HUD announced Thursday.

“By expanding RAD’s reach into this vital part of our affordable housing stock, we can prioritize and mobilize capital investment to tackle the projected backlog of repairs in these properties and preserve more affordable housing for those who need it most,” HUD Sec. Ben Carson said in a statement.

Through RAD, according to HUD, owners of affordable housing convert their developments to a project-based Section 8 platform, permitting them to pursue public-private partnerships for their capital needs without new federal funding.

LeadingAge said the Thursday “RAD for PRAC” notice was “much anticipated” and led to celebration among providers of affordable senior housing.

“Preservation of our country’s existing affordable housing for older adults is essential, so we are thrilled that the HUD’s guidance is now public and our members have the option of using it,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement.

The guidance issued Thursday, according to the association, follows the March 2018 passage in Congress of the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill, which provided HUD with the authority to include certain PRAC properties in its evolving preservation demonstration program. That move gave PRAC-subsidized Section 202 property owners the possibility of new options to pay for capital improvements — from new roofs to HVAC systems to window upgrades or fresh paint in community rooms — previously unavailable to them.

“PRACs across the country housing some of our most vulnerable elderly will now finally have a sustainable pathway to preservation and will have the tools they need to provide the safe, decent and affordable homes that our residents need and deserve,” said Michelle Norris, executive vice president of external affairs and strategic initiatives for National Church Residences, the No. 1 not-for-profit provider of affordable senior housing, according to the 2018 LeadingAge Ziegler 200.

“We are excited about the RAD for PRAC opportunity. Replacement reserve balances have not kept pace with the aging buildings and equipment,” said Cheryl Wickersham, vice president of housing services for United Church Homes, No. 16 on the 2018 LZ 200. “RAD for PRAC will permit us to obtain financing for much-needed repairs. It is extremely important that the PRAC communities are adequately funded and preserved, as the average resident in our PRAC communities pays just $200 per month for rent and utilities.”