The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s announcement of the authorization of a record-breaking $1.09 billion disbursement to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac affordable housing allocations for 2020 “will undoubtedly increase the supply of affordable senior housing,” LeadingAge Vice President of Housing Policy Linda Couch told McKnight’s Senior Living Wednesday.

The FHFA said Monday that the amount is the largest it ever has disbursed and is more than double what was provided last year.

Of the total, $711 million will go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Trust Fund, an increase from the $326.4 million disbursed for 2019. The fund allocates money annually to states and state-designated entities for the production or preservation of affordable housing through the acquisition, new construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of non-luxury housing.

Also, $383 million will go to the Treasury Department’s Capital Magnet Fund, an increase from the $175.8 million disbursed for 2019. This fund awards money to finance affordable housing activities as well as related economic development activities and community service facilities.

LeadingAge is “thrilled” with the news, Couch said, adding, however, that “there is a long way to go until every older adult has access to affordable housing.”  

Increasing the supply of affordable senior housing is LeadingAge’s top policy goal for its housing work, she said. “Because the gap between need and supply is so large, LeadingAge will continue to work to support additional funding for these programs and others, including HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly,” Couch said.

The FHFA news comes as LeadingAge advocates for senators to prioritize the 2.5 million people in HUD-assisted senior housing who were left out of the House-passed COVID-19 relief package. 

“After a year of disaster that hit older Americans particularly hard, Congress can’t turn its back now,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said Wednesday in a statement. 

The House of Representatives voted Saturday on the American Rescue Plan Act. The Senate’s deliberations began this week.

LeadingAge is calling for the Senate’s bill to include $1.2 billion to address the needs of older adults in HUD-assisted senior housing, specifically by funding the underwriting of service coordinators and wireless internet access along with cleaning, personal protective equipment, services, and staffing to deal with the pandemic.

The association also is calling for at least $40 billion to $50 billion in Provider Relief Fund assistance for aging services providers to cover pandemic-related expenses.