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(Washington, D.C., July 2, 2020)–B’nai B’rith welcomes the introduction of a new Senate bill that would provide financial resources for senior housing in response to COVID-19.
The Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act of 2020, introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) will provide much needed resources to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assisted senior housing.
“B’nai B’rith International, as the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income, nonsectarian housing for seniors in the United States, is uniquely aware of the need to allocate additional financial resources for HUD senior housing in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mark Olshan, associate executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International and director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Senior Services. “Consequently, we are pleased to support the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act of 2020 introduced by Senator Robert Menendez. This legislation provides critical funding for senior properties to better meet challenges associated with the virus, including the ability to purchase more personal protective equipment, expand service coordination and WiFi accessibility. During a time of national crisis, we are thankful that Senator Menendez is leading the effort in the Senate to ensure that senior housing has the resources to combat the pandemic.”

“Given how vulnerable seniors are to the coronavirus, we call on Congress to quickly pass this legislation.” said B’nai B’rith Legislative Director for Aging Policy Evan Carmen. “The legislation provides critical financial resources for the residents of HUD assisted senior housing that will ensure a safer environment for older Americans.”. 

Menendez represents three B’nai B’rith-sponsored senior housing facilities: South Orange B’nai B’rith Federation House, B’nai B’rith Chesilhurt House and B’nai B’rith Elmwood House.

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on our communities and families, it has had a relentless, devastating impact on our nation’s seniors, especially elderly Americans living in facilities that struggled with lack of protection, staff and resources,” Menendez said. “Congress has an obligation to help our most vulnerable during this crisis and that means making sure our federally-assisted senior housing facilities have the necessary resources to effectively protect and ensure residents remain safe, healthy and have access to key services during the COVID-19 crisis.”

B’nai B’rith would also like to acknowledge Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-C.A.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore). In addition, we would also like to thank Rep. Katie Porter (D-C.A.) and Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-C.A.) for introducing the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act of 2020 in the House last month.  

These bills allocate $1.2 billion to senior housing, which will enable buildings to hire more staff, purchase more personal protective equipment (PPE) and deal with decreased revenue due to decreased rent payments caused by the pandemic-related lockdowns and economic crisis. In addition, this money helps advance service coordination, both for buildings that already have and those that do not yet have a service coordinator. A service coordinator is a social service staff person who connects residents with services in the community. This legislation provides $50 million in funding for increasing WiFi accessibility, a crucial service in an age of telehealth medicine. Better WiFi also would enable service coordinators to speak with building residents while practicing social distancing.

While the money in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is already helping low-income seniors, the long-term and on-going virus threat requires further stimulus legislation. Therefore, we encourage Congress to pass the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act of 2020 to ensure that senior housing has the appropriate resources to meet the challenges of the day.

The news release from Menendez can be found here:

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. Visit