WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, announced earlier this week the passage of S.118 under unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate. The bill will improve the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. President Obama must now sign off on the legislation.
The Section 202 program provides capital grants to non-profit community organizations for the development of supportive housing and provision of rental assistance exclusively for low-income seniors. Through such housing and supportive services, the program allows low-income seniors to remain in their homes.
“This bill makes essential reforms in the Section 202 program to enable housing providers to maintain and improve existing housing, allow them to adjust to cost fluctuations and expand the supply of affordable housing for seniors both in urban and rural areas,” said Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. “The legislation will also allow for a number of crucial programmatic changes to increase the availability of supportive services in Section 202 communities so residents can age in place.”
The law will preserve and improve upon existing Section 202 facilities. There are over 300,000 seniors living in 6,000 Section 202 developments across the country, with 10 seniors vying for each housing unit that becomes available. It is expected that approximately 730,000 additional senior housing units will be needed by 2020 in order to address the housing needs of low-income seniors.
The law will address the affordable senior housing shortage by:
· Making it easier for owners to refinance Section 202 developments, which may be in need of rehabilitation;
· Providing greater flexibility to owners to transform unmarketable studio apartments into rentable one-bedroom units;
· Establishing a new project-based rental assistance program for seniors at risk of losing rental housing due to rent increases after refinancing;