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As a member of the Elderly Housing Coalition, B’nai B’rith International organized a luncheon and a trip to Capitol Hill to attend a Congressional briefing on affordable senior housing and the federal role of aging in place for residents of two local senior housing buildings.

Residents from the B’nai B’rith Homecrest House in Silver Spring, Md., and St. Mary’s Court in Washington, D.C., gathered at St. Mary’s Court to receive advocacy training from B’nai B’rith professionals, teaching residents how they can speak up for the programs and services that keep millions of seniors healthy at home.

B’nai B’rith Director of Aging and Health Policy Rachel Goldberg spoke to attendees about the importance of federally-funded programs and informed them of the adversity facing many seniors, with 1.47 million elderly households below the poverty line and elderly homelessness expected to rise 33 percent by 2020.

“Our residents know first-hand how important the subsidized housing program is,” Associate Director of the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services Janel Doughten said. “And they also know how programs throughout the aging network make it possible for them to age in their own homes. We wanted to paint a bigger picture of the problems facing low-income seniors and give them the tools to keep these programs alive. I think we’ve accomplished that here today.”

Following lunch, residents travelled across town to the Rayburn House Office Building for a briefing on the role of supportive housing in the nation’s long-term care system. The briefing highlighted the shift in national policy as it moves in the direction of consumer choice and aging-in-place, as well as the dwindling number of supportive housing options for seniors and persons with disabilities.

“We hope this briefing will raise awareness about the critical role affordable housing for older adults plays in creating a successful, cost-effective long-term care delivery system in which people can age in place,” Goldberg said.

At the briefing, Homecrest House resident Trudi Addison addressed attendees, as did Morgan Gable, president of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Court; Kathleen Whalen, policy analyst for the Public Housing Directors Association (PHDA); Joe Belden, deputy executive director of the Housing Assistance Council (HAC); and Sarah Tribe, director of the Information and Referral/Assistance Support Center at the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD).