United States Senate Special Committee on Aging

Affordable Senior Housing

Senator Kohl is a longtime advocate of programs that allow low-income seniors to continue living independent life styles, such as the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. The Section 202 program provides capital grants to non-profits and community organizations for the development of supportive housing and rental assistance for very low-income seniors. The program provides supportive services coupled with housing to create a safe community and promote an independent life style. Many of those who currently live in Section 202 housing units are on fixed incomes and would not be able to bear the rising costs of both health care and housing on their own. Often, individuals eligible for these housing options are isolated and frail, and need supportive services to avoid premature nursing home placement. Senior housing is a safe and affordable platform for those supportive services.

Over the years, the Administration has sought to cut funding for this vital program. As a staunch supporter of affordable senior housing, Senator Kohl has consistently advocated for increased funding. For FY 2008, Chairman Kohl and Ranking Member Gordon Smith are requesting $750 million for the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, in spite of the Administration's proposal to cut the program by $160 million, a 22 percent reduction from the FY 2007 funding level. If these cuts were to be enacted, federal funding would only provide for the creation of 2,700 new units of section 202 housing. This stands in stark contrast to the findings of the congressionally-mandated Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century, which estimates that approximately 730,000 additional senior housing units will be needed by 2020 to address the housing needs of low-income seniors. While there are nearly 300,000 seniors living in 6,000 housing units in the nation, at least 10 seniors are on a section 202 waiting list for each unit that becomes available. Senator Kohl believes that Congress should act now to plan appropriately for the increased demand that will exist for housing in the coming years and ensure that seniors can find safe, affordable housing, at a cost they can afford on fixed incomes.