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Casey Holds Hearing on Affordable, Accessible Housing for Older Adults and People With Disabilities

Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, July 20th, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey (D-PA) held a hearing entitled, “Laying the Foundation: Housing Accessibility and Affordability for Older Adults and People with Disabilities” examining the barriers that older adults and people with disabilities face when trying to find affordable and accessible housing.

During the hearing, Chairman Casey highlighted the need for increasing investment to build new accessible housing stock, supporting intergenerational housing, and connecting people who need accessible housing with housing options. He also touted his Visitable Inclusive Tax Credit for Accessible Living (VITAL) Act, which would increase the supply of affordable, accessible housing by increasing investment in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and requiring that a percentage of units built to qualify for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program meet certain accessibility standards.

“Stable, high-quality housing is an essential human need and the foundation of community well-being,” said Chairman Casey. “But for millions of Americans, adequate housing is more of an aspiration than a reality. In particular, far too many older adults and people with disabilities cannot afford accessible housing...My legislation would ensure that we are increasing the amount of accessible housing available for people with disabilities and older adults to meet their needs. Investments in accessible housing are central to guaranteeing better outcomes in health and satisfaction for older adults and people with disabilities.”

According to a study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), less than five percent of housing is accessible for people with moderate mobility difficulties and less than one percent of housing is accessible for wheelchair users. Another study by the National Association of the Deaf estimates that less than one percent of housing is accessible to people with sensory disabilities. This lack of affordable, accessible housing supply is one of the primary reasons that people with disabilities and older adults are disproportionally stuck in institutional care, experiencing homelessness, or unstably housed.

Chairman Casey invited Domonique Howell, an advocate for the civil rights of people with disabilities from Philadelphia, PA, who has personally experienced the barriers people with disabilities confront in finding accessible housing. She testified, “My entire life I have had to make the decision between accessibility and affordability as so many other Americans with disabilities do daily...As an advocate and activist, personally and professionally one of my primary focuses is housing justice because housing is a human right and unfortunately far too many Americans, especially people with disabilities, are not being equally granted the right of housing they can afford that is accessible. It is my opinion that Pennsylvania and other states across the country should decrease their focus on market value development and increase their efforts to develop affordable accessible housing to match the needs of residents.”