B’nai B’rith International is disappointed over the drastic cuts to vital programs included in the White House’s 2018 federal budget. Low-income seniors face extensive challenges if the proposed cuts to housing and nutrition assistance, and health care are enacted.
Specifically, B’nai B’rith has very serious concerns regarding the proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Our long history with Section 202 housing, which provides housing assistance for low-income seniors, started in 1971 when we formed a partnership with HUD to sponsor housing for seniors of limited means. The B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Network in the United States comprises 38 buildings and serves more than 8,000 people. We are the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors in the country. B’nai B’rith is worried that residents of Section 202 properties might not receive fully funded rental subsidies in the FY 18 budget, which is a direct threat to the housing needs of our most vulnerable seniors.
Currently, President Donald Trump is proposing to increase Section 202 rent to 35 percent of a resident’s income (from the current level of 30 percent), or a minimum $50 contribution for those people who make less than $2,000 a year. Both of these proposed changes could force already-struggling seniors into a significant financial hardship. Unfortunately, for residents with no income or extremely limited income, even this small increase could become an unreasonable burden.
The budget also includes dramatic cuts to food assistance programs. About five million seniors could, potentially, go hungry without food assistance if Congress passes the president’s planned budget, which targets the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a government program that provides food to low-income Americans. The budget plans to cut SNAP’s funding by 25 percent. Cutting SNAP funding at such dramatic levels will harm low-income seniors as millions of them depend on this program to buy groceries.
The White House’s budget plans to cut Medicaid by $627 billion over 10 years is another area of enormous concern. Millions of poor and disabled seniors rely on Medicaid to subsidize their nursing home costs. Eliminating any part of the Medicaid budget will make nursing homes out of financial reach for many of those in need of such care.
Over the last several months, B’nai B’rith has been advocating to members of Congress the importance of these programs for seniors and will continue our efforts as Congress considers what to include in the federal budget. We urge Congress not to adopt the Administration’s proposal to defund programs that are vital to the most vulnerable older Americans.