The U.S. Capitol building

As negotiations between leaders in the legislative and executive branches of government continue over what provisions will be included in a slimmed-down Build Back Better Act, two “dear colleague” letters in the House of Representatives and Senate, dated Oct. 18 and Oct. 15, respectively, show widespread support of components that would benefit low-income older adults and others.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) led the efforts related to the letters, sent to leaders in Congress and President Joe Biden. They show support for $90 billion in funding to expand rental assistance to households with the lowest incomes, $80 billion to make repairs in public housing, and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and operate affordable, accessible housing.

“Even before the pandemic, America was in the grips of an affordable housing crisis, most severely impacting the most marginalized and lowest-income people, including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and others,” one letter states.

Altogether, 36 senators signed the Senate letter and 125 representatives signed the House letter.

Additionally, almost 1,700 organizations nationwide signed an Oct. 15 letter to the leaders of the House and Senate related to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s HoUSed campaign. Among them are national senior living and affordable senior housing provider United Church Homes; Volunteers of America Greater New York, which offers supportive housing for older adults in three residences; and Volunteers of America Northern New Enngland, which operates the Country Villa supportive senior living.

The current $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which includes $327 billion in funding for affordable housing and community development, likely will be reduced to a total of $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion, according to the NLIHC.