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.
The findings of the congressionally-mandated Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century estimated 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.
On January 6, 2009, Senator Kohl and Senator Charles Schumer, the previous Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, reintroduced the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act (S. 118). This legislation will make it easier to refinance older Section 202 developments, many of which were built in the 1960s and are in need of repair. The bill would allow building owners to use proceeds from refinancing to improve and rehabilitate the properties. On September 30, 2010 the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a mark-up on S. 118, bringing it one step closer to final passage.