(Washington, D.C., May 8, 2019)--B’nai B’rith International co-hosted a rally on Capitol Hill today to call attention to the need for more affordable senior housing. About 1,000 people attended the Senior Housing Now rally, which featured Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine; Missouri Rep. William Clay; California Rep. Katie Hill; and Florida Rep. Donna Shalala, along with residents of affordable housing for low-income seniors.
Safe and affordable housing is a lifeline for so many older adults. Attending the rally today, Ethel Young, president of the CSI board of directors in Baltimore, who said: “Sometimes I learn that a person who calls to check on where they are on the waiting list [for housing where she lives] is sleeping in their car. I feel so sorry for them. My heart goes out to them. By the grace of God I know it just could have easily been me. The Walker coop apartments are 88 wonderful apartments in a beautiful community. But we are only 88 units. I cannot create new units or wipe away the waiting lists. However, Congress can. Members of Congress should answer the leasing office phone for a few hours a week and hear from the people I talk to.”
Evelyn Hudson, a resident of St. Mary’s Court in Washington, D.C., said: “The reason I’m here today is because of the fact that senior citizens can be displaced quickly because of the fact they don’t make enough money. Some of us retired and we didn’t get the retirement we thought we would get. The American dream seems like an illusion, and so we need affordable houses. Safe, affordable houses where we can have food, medicine and housing without scrimping and scraping.”
Lawmakers attending the rally said they understood how vital funding is. Shalala told the crowd:
“I started my career at HUD, working on 202s as a policymaker at HUD in the Carter administration, a long time ago. I’m a senior, too. But I came to tell you that the Congress is committed, that we understand what you’ve contributed to this country. And we know what we have to do to honor that contribution. Seniors all over our country are desperate for affordable housing. And 202 and Section 8s are the best vehicle to provide first-class housing to seniors.” She finished by saying: “Housing is a right in this country, and quality housing for seniors ought to be a right.”
B’nai B’rith’s long history with Section 202 housing started in 1971, when we formed a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to sponsor housing for low-income seniors. The B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Network in the United States comprises 38 buildings and serves some 5,000 people. B’nai B’rith International is the largest national Jewish sponsor of non-sectarian low-income housing for seniors in the country.
Attending the rally on behalf of the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services were Associate Director Janel Doughten and Assistant Director for Aging Policy Evan Carmen. They noted: “It’s so exciting being at the Senior Housing Now rally on Capitol Hill. Affordable HUD senior housing is so important throughout our country and we call on Congress to appropriate more money for the Section 202 program. Just look to our B’nai B’rith housing communities where often waiting lists to get into our sponsored Section 202 properties can be a year or longer, or even closed. This rally was critical to highlight the importance of creating more senior housing.”
The rally was sponsored by LeadingAge, an association of non-profit aging services.