Senior Housing + Advocacy
B’nai B’rith is an established leader in the fields of aging policy and housing for seniors, two issues that are uniquely intertwined. Through our expertise in senior housing, we have created an advanced program of advocacy overseeing legislation that could impact the plight of the elderly. We also demonstrate our expertise on aging matters as we assist the managers and residents of our senior housing facilities in creating warm, inviting and intellectually invigorating programming for residents. We have taught classes and arranged speakers on such topics as fraud prevention and hosting anti-bullying campaigns.
Congressional Staff Visits to B’nai B’rith Housing
In 2019, we again focused on ensuring members of Congress were aware of the desperate need for safe and affordable housing for low-income seniors. By hosting lawmakers and their staffs at B’nai B’rith housing locations across the country, we help the housing crisis come to life for these decision-makers.
During the building visits, we highlight the detailed work that B’nai B’rith does sponsoring Section 202 housing and we demonstrate that federal funding for this program is critical. We advocate for the continuation of the Section 202 housing subsidies in the federal budget, as well as highlight the federal programs that help our residents continue to live independently in their own apartments in these buildings.
In 2019, we met with staff from the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee and the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.
We also met with Members of Congress and/or their staffs from nine different lawmakers’ offices that have B’nai B’rith-sponsored buildings in their districts:
- Rep. Bruce Westerman visited Levi Towers in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
- Rep. Scott Perry visited Abe Cramer B’nai B’rith Apartments in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
- Rep. Matt Cartwright visited Amos Towers in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
- Rep. Glenn Grothman visited B’nai B’rith Covenant House in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
- Rep. Andy Kim visited B’nai B’rith Elmwood House in Marlton, New Jersey.
- Four members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation Housing and Urban Development visited Homecrest House in Silver Spring, Maryland.
- Jade Suh from Sen. Diane Feinstein’s office visited B’nai B’rith Golden Years Apartments in North Hollywood, California.
- Ron Sparks from Sen. Doug Jones visited Glen East Senior Housing in Dothan, Alabama.
- Rep. Chrissy Houlahan visited B’nai B’rith Apartments in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The annual B’nai B’rith Service Coordinators and Managers Meeting took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in May. This meeting focused on the needs of on-site building staff and the issues that impact the day-to-day activities of staff and residents in our affordable housing buildings. Since Puerto Rico was a recipient of B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief funds, the meeting included a day of service subsidized by the fund in conjunction with chef José Andrés’s charity, the World Central Kitchen. The group volunteered at an organic farm in the mountains outside of San Juan, helping to plant vegetable seedlings and packing produce to be distributed to the community. After the day of service, participants were immersed in learning about emergency preparedness, federal housing policy, aging in place and smart financial management from a series of panels. Presenters included staff from the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), experts in affordable senior housing and professionals from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Listen to our podcast on this service mission.
Our Associate Executive Vice President and Director of our Center for Senior Services Mark D. Olshan, Ph.D., was invited by the U.S. Congress House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development to participate in a Housing Finance Roundtable where he spoke on B’nai B’rith’s history with the Section 202 program and how B’nai B’rith used the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to recapitalize our sponsored building in the Bronx, New York.
Center for Senior Services staff held meetings with HUD staff to further advocate for low-income senior housing and talk about B’nai B’rith’s role in affordable housing. Our staff met with Deputy Secretary for Multifamily Housing Lamar Seats at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
We also led a tour for about 15 staff members from HUD, including the budget director. Associate Director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Senior Services Janel Doughten, who is president emeritus of a Section 202 building in Washington, D.C., St. Mary’s Court’s board, and Assistant Director for Aging Policy Evan Carmen, a board member, helped lead the tour.
The U.S. federal government shutdown for 34 days in the winter of 2019 caused funding uncertainty for the Section 202 program. B’nai B’rith closely monitored the situation in Congress and the White House. We collaborated with industry colleagues, communicated with senior officials at HUD, which enabled staff to keep our boards and building staff apprised of the situation, and we continued to advocate for low-income seniors through the media. Our efforts were picked up by NBC News.
The B’nai B’rith Resident Leadership Retreat was held August 7 to August 13 at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp in the Poconos. This retreat is open to two residents from each of the senior housing buildings in the B’nai B’rith housing portfolio. This week-long retreat is designed to enhance the leadership skills of the residents who attend, so they can take ideas back to their community to benefit all the residents in their respective buildings.
The B’nai B’rith Conference on Senior Housing, an annual training conference for board members and management professionals of each of the B’nai B’rith buildings, took place Sept. 21 to Sept. 24 in Fort Worth, Texas. This year the hosts were the board and staff of the Mollie and Max Barnett/Tarrant County B’nai B’rith Apartments.
Our History in Senior Housing and Advocacy
Our commitment to seniors started in the early 1970s, when we began acting to correct the severe, nationwide dearth of housing for low-income seniors, and we have built on that knowledge to extend our expertise to all aspects of aging and aging issues. We recognize how healthy aging directly connects to a safe, affordable and engaging home environment.
B’nai B’rith International is the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income, non-sectarian housing for seniors in the United States, with 38 buildings in 28 communities. We also sponsor six Canadian buildings in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver as well as additional facilities around the world.
In the United States, with funding from HUD, we provide safe, affordable housing for more than 5,000 seniors of limited income without regard to race, national origin or religion. In order to fulfill our mission and standards of operations for each building, B’nai B’rith staff provides ongoing training, troubleshooting, programming and advocacy outreach for the entire housing network. B’nai B’rith volunteers provide guidance to each local building within a framework that reflects the needs of each local community.
|B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
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