B’nai B’rith sponsored housing facilities are bracing for these spending reductions and senior residents are preparing to face the myriad of complications and harsh realities these budget cuts may bring. While the full impact of the cuts will be felt over time, the uncertainty has already frightened and unsettled residents and staff. No one knows how quickly residents and other seniors will feel the impact of the cuts.
Our facilities provide affordable housing for low-income seniors. They also save seniors and the government money by avoiding expensive health care and nursing home stays, and they allow people to age independently, where they can be active participants in their communities. With the looming sequestration those goals will become harder to achieve, especially if the cuts are imposed long term.
B'nai B'rith is the largest Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States with 42 buildings in 26 communities. Through our partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), our facilities provide safe, affordable housing for low-income seniors.
Over time, the sequestration will create a litany of problems, especially because this 5 percent cut to the Fiscal Year 2013 annual budget comes so late in the current fiscal year that many programs will have to cut 9 percent to achieve the savings necessary to meet that target. This is an enormous blow to programs already unable to meet the needs of low-income seniors and other at risk populations.
The sequestration also means a total $18 million cut from HUD’s Section 202—housing for low-income elderly— for the rest of the year. This cut would most likely be felt in reduced apartment unit maintenance and supportive services for 114,000 households—services that are crucial in enabling seniors to remain in an independent living situation.
Additionally, the sequestration cuts Health and Human Services programs under the Older Americans Act, including a $285 million reduction to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), potentially cutting off home heating assistance to 290,000 senior households. Even the ability to get meals delivered to the elderly could be jeopardized. The number of grants Senior Nutrition Services provides to states supporting home-delivered meals programs such as Meals on Wheels will likely be cut, resulting in an estimated 17 million meals that will not be delivered to those seniors who need them most during the rest of the year.
The kinds of maintenance and supportive services that seniors rely on affect all aspects of daily life. Losing them will not only hamper seniors’ independence, but could also have serious consequences. Among the things the sequester threatens are rides for seniors to medical appointments and the grocery store; access to the homemaker services that help them with basic daily housekeeping needs; personal care services such as in-home assistance with bathing, toileting and dressing; adult day care programs that give seniors health care, socialization and nutrition they need; and legal services to avoid abuse and fraud, or help them fight back if they are victims of abuse and fraud.
B’nai B’rith calls for a bipartisan effort to immediately address the nation’s fiscal issues.