Elderly Housing:

Federal Housing Programs and Supportive Services

GAO-05-795T: Published: Jun 16, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 2005.

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According to a congressionally established bipartisan commission, decreased investment in affordable housing and an elderly population that is projected to grow from about 12 percent of the population in 2002 to 20 percent by 2030 are likely to increase the number of elderly who must spend large portions of their incomes on housing. Moreover, according to this commission, more than one-third of the elderly tenants of government-subsidized housing require assistance with some type of activity of daily living, such as making a meal or getting in and out of bed. This testimony, which is based on a report issued in February 2005, discusses (1) the federal housing assistance programs requiring that supportive services be made available to elderly residents, (2) other Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs that assist the elderly in obtaining supportive services, and (3) private partnerships and federal health care programs that may provide supportive services to elderly beneficiaries of federal housing assistance.

Of the 23 housing assistance programs GAO reviewed, only 4 require the owners of participating properties to ensure that services such as meals or transportation are available to residents. Three are HUD programs: the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, which subsidizes multifamily properties for elderly households with very low incomes; the Assisted Living Conversion Program, which subsidizes the conversion of HUD-subsidized multifamily properties into assisted living facilities; and the Section 232 Mortgage Insurance Program, which insures mortgages for licensed facilities that provide varying levels of skilled care and services. USDA's Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loan program, which makes loans for the construction and rehabilitation of rural multifamily properties, has a Congregate Housing Services subprogram that requires the provision of supportive services. HUD administers four programs that can be used with various housing programs to help the elderly with supportive services: Congregate Housing Services Program, which provides grants for the delivery of meals and nonmedical supportive services to elderly and disabled residents of public and multifamily housing; Neighborhood Networks Program, which encourages the development of computer centers in HUD-supported housing; Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) Program, which links public housing residents with services; and Service Coordinator Program, which funds coordinators who help elderly residents access services such as transportation and health care at some multifamily properties. Supportive services may also be available to elderly residents of subsidized housing through partnerships between individual properties and local organizations and through Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs. For example, HHS's Public Housing Primary Care Program provides public housing residents with access to affordable primary and preventive health care through clinics that are located in or near the properties. GAO did not obtain data on the extent to which such services are made available.

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