Katie Smith Sloan

As the Biden administration prepares to release details later this week on an economic plan providing federal investments in physical infrastructure, senior living leaders are urging lawmakers to prioritize the needs of older adults, particularly those in need of affordable housing.

On Friday, Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge president and CEO, sent a letter to housing authorizing committees with a wishlist for affordable housing within any infrastructure package. LeadingAge’s housing priorities for an infrastructure bill include expanding the supply of senior affordable housing by investing $2.5 billion in the Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program, which would provide approximately 54,000 affordable senior homes,

“Today, 2.6 million older adult renter households spend more than half of their incomes on housing, too often forcing them to choose between rent, food and medicine,” Sloan wrote. “This $2.5 billion proposal is consistent with the 116th Congress’s S. 2951, H.R. 5187 and H.R. 2, the House-passed Moving Forward Act.”

Sloan also prioritized the provision of internet access in affordable housing to ensure that the more than 2.2 million older adults who live in federally subsidized buildings have basic internet access, and she also prioritized the establishment of a $1 billion capital pool for age-friendly retrofits to meet building design needs in the HUD-subsidized housing stock.

In related news, the House Committee on Financial Services is circulating a discussion draft of the Supporting Seniors and Tenants in Subsidized Housing Act, LeadingAge reported.

The draft bill, a version of 2020’s Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act, was introduced in the House (as HR 6873) and Senate (as S 4177) and is sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), chair of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance. 

The bill, spearheaded by LeadingAge, would provide financial relief COVID-19-related expenses, including funding for new service coordinators, funding for the installation and service fees for building-wide wireless internet, and funding to cover an array of COVID-19 expenses amassed by HUD-assisted affordable senior housing providers.