Former HUD secretaries: There is a crisis in affordable housing for elderly

by Ryan Smith24 May 2016
America’s elderly are in desperate need of affordable housing, according to two former secretaries of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Writing for HousingWire, former HUD secretaries Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez said that millions of aging adults are struggling to find housing that is both affordable and physically suitable for the aged. Cisneros and Martinez, who now serve as co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Senior Health and Housing Task Force, released a report Monday that included a set of recommendations they said “would enhance the lives of America’s seniors.”

“Our fundamental proposition is this: greater integration of America’s health care and housing systems will be essential to improve health outcomes for older adults and enable millions of Americans to age in place in their own homes and communities,” Cisneros and Martinez wrote.

According to Cisneros and Martinez, in 2013 about 11.2 million “extremely low0income” renter households – including 2.3 million senior households – competed for just 4.3 million affordable rental homes.

“The acute shortage of affordable homes forces low-income households of all ages to spend excessive amounts of income just to pay the rent,” they wrote. “However, it is particularly tragic when an older adult, often living alone, must forego essentials like nutritious food and medications to pay for housing.”

Martinez and Cisneros recommended expanding federal support for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to help close the gap between supply of affordable housing and demand. They also recommended reducing regulatory burdens to encourage the construction of more affordable housing.

“If we are going to close the supply gap, federal regulatory policies must work to encourage, not stymie, the production and preservation of new affordable homes,” they wrote.


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