What's HUD 202?
It's a crucial U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that helps expand the supply of affordable housing with support services for the elderly. It provides our very low-wealth elderly with another option to live independently, with dignity. Essentially HUD extends capital to finance the construction, rehabilitation or acquisition of supportive housing and also covers rent subsidies for units to make them affordable for older renters.
This program is more vital than ever as the need for affordable housing for seniors is growing exponentially. Yet, inexplicably, our leaders in Washington are de-prioritizing efforts to protect seniors by denying essential funding to HUD 202.
Our partners at National Church Residences have been sounding the warning bells over HUD 202 cuts and what we all believe will be an explosion in housing needs as our population ages.
They like to cite these facts:
• Those who are elderly in this country will increase by 10,000 people per day until 2030. By 2040, one in four Americans will be over 65.
• Americans are less prepared for retirement than ever before. Savings are down, way down, personal debt is up, way up, and entitlement programs such as Social Security are on shaky financial footing.
• 10 million seniors lived in poverty in 2013
Add these dynamics together and our nation faces the very real prospect of thousands of seniors desperate for help, unable to find housing they can afford and the services that will keep them out of costly hospitals and nursing homes.
National Church Residences turned the spotlight squarely on this issue at their Future of All Things Senior Symposium held earlier this month in Atlanta.
I was privileged to attend and came away with a greater sense of the urgency to take action. We must address the challenges now because we're running out of time.
These key themes resonated during the Symposium:
- Few of us truly understand the magnitude of the problem and how it's becoming more and more difficult for seniors to access affordable housing
- The delivery of services to our elderly is too fragmented and must be reformed through better collaboration and coordination
Americans as a group don't think enough about senior care and how to pay for it. For too many, the crisis will arrive on their own doorstep (if they can afford one) when they are least able to address it.
Before it's too late, all of us should be urging our elected officials and other policymakers to ramp up efforts to create the affordable housing and services our seniors need, that includes a healthy dose of funding for the HUD 202 initiative.