Center for Senior Services: Advocacy
Working with our members and supporters throughout the United States, our Senior Advocacy Initiative advances B’nai B’rith’s agenda on a range of seniors’ issues—including affordable housing, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to policy makers in Washington, D.C. and across the country.
We work directly with seniors through forums and programs on issues such as aging in place, elder fraud and technology.
We also advise the B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Network on relevant legislation, as well as how it can contact elected leaders quickly and easily.
B'nai B'rith Appreciates Sen. Bob Menendez's “Dear Colleague Letter” Advocating Funds for Affordable Senior Housing
B’nai B’rith appreciates a “Dear Colleague” letter from U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez on behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) affordable senior housing community advocating for $600 million for new affordable housing construction. As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income, non-sectarian senior housing in the country, B’nai B’rith is keenly aware of the vital importance affordable housing plays in the lives of older Americans.
As the letter states:
“Section 202 provides a sensible and necessary approach to meeting our nation’s growing affordable housing needs for seniors, and it is the only federally funded program expressly aimed at doing so. As HUD’s most recent Worst Case Housing Needs Report finds, 2.24 million very low-income elderly households are paying more than 50 percent of their income in rent, an increase of 68% since 2009. Moreover, a 2021 report from the Urban Institute, The Future of Headship and Homeownership, predicts there will be 13.8 million new older adult households between 2020 and 2040, and 40% (5.5 million) of these new older adult households will be renter households. Meanwhile, affordable housing provider waitlists continue to grow.
By leveraging other funding sources, combining affordable housing with access to supportive services, and focusing on the most vulnerable segments of the population, the Section 202 program helps more seniors to live independently and age in place. To date, Section 202 has helped produce nearly 400,000 homes for low-income seniors. We believe that continued investment in low-income affordable housing for older adults is both cost-effective and critical to ensuring seniors can live in supportive, decent, and affordable housing. For example, according to the American Association of Service Coordinators, taxpayers save 66% when older adults live independently with the assistance of a service coordinator.”
Thanks to Menendez and the 40 other members of the Senate who signed onto this statement, in particular Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Chris Murphy, Ben Cardin, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Coons, Tammy Baldwin, Alex Padilla, Bob Casey, Richard Blumenthal, Kyrsten Sinema, Cory Booker, Edward Markey, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Kelly, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin. All of them represent housing properties in the B’nai B’rith senior housing network. B’nai B’rith appreciates their support!
View the Dear Colleague letter here.
The mission of B’nai B’rith Senior Housing is to provide seniors with quality, affordable housing in a secure, supportive community environment, without regard to religion, race or national origin in order to maximize their independent and dignified lifestyle. The B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Network in the United States is located in 15 states and serves about 5,000 residents. Our long history with housing started in 1971 when we opened our first sponsored property in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Congressional Visits to CSS Housing Locations
Rep. Ted Deutch Visits B’nai B’rith Deerfield Beach Apartments Deutch said, “With approximately 10,000 Americans reaching retirement age each day and increases in life expectancy, the population of older Americans will double between 2012 and 2050. Congress must continue strong support for programs like Section 202 to ensure that high housing costs do not jeopardize a safe and secure retirement for hundreds of thousands of seniors. It was a pleasure to meet with the residents, board members, and staff of B’nai B’rith to see how federal investments in affordable housing help maintain quality of life and independence for South Florida seniors. Every American deserves to retire with dignity. Organizations like B’nai B’rith make that possible.”
– U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
How To Be An Effective Advocate: A Guide To Taking Charge
How To Be An Effective Advocate: A Guide To Taking Charge
B’nai B’rith international Center for Senior Services (CSS) advocates on a variety of issues affecting the lives of older adults that includes: Section 202 and other affordable housing for seniors, health care reform, income security, nutrition and etc.
Anyone can be an advocate. Below you will find step by step instructions teaching you the basics of advocacy and how you can get started today!
All it takes to get started is for you and your friends to decide to speak up and be heard. Getting your legislator’s attention is not as difficult as it may seem. Try it! You can do something from your home, in your town or in the nation’s capitol.
February through March is when the federal budget is written. Consequently, it is a great time to write and call your members of Congress about funding for affordable housing for seniors.
Writing Your Legislator
Legislators are extremely interested in reading correspondence from constituents. Remember: They should be responsive to you! You can write to them at the Capitol or in their hometown office. Part of their job is to respond to you.
Tips for Writing on Affordable Housing:
1. State your name and where you live. Your name and address should also be on the top of the letter.
2. Give a little bit of information about how long you have lived in your building.
3. State why you are writing.
4. Give examples of why you have benefited from living in affordable housing and the role it plays in your life.
5. Please find the sample correspondence below (PDF)
Calling Your Legislator
Legislators are extremely interested hearing from constituents. Remember: They should be responsive to you! You can call them at the Capitol or in their hometown office. Part of their job is to listen and respond to you. When you call, a staff assistant will answer the phone, but your message will go to the legislator.
Tips for Calling Your Legislator:
Write down what you want to say. In case you get nervous or lose your thought, having notes written down will help you to stay on target and direct the flow of the conversation.
1. Introduce yourself and state your name and where you live.
2. Tell them the issue you are calling about and why the issue is important to you.
3. Be specific as to what you are asking for.
4. Thank the person for taking your call.
5. Please see the sample dialogue for a call (PDF).
Meeting With Your Legislator
Legislators enjoy visiting B’nai B’rith affordable housing properties. These visits provide a great opportunity for lawmakers to visit a building in partnership with the federal government and learn more about seniors issues. After the tour, your legislator can meet with residents in a town hall style format and discuss issue that impact seniors such as affordable housing, health care, income security, nutrition and etc.
Tips for Scheduling a Visit With Your Legislator:
1. Try and schedule your meeting when Congress is not in session. If you are not sure, you can call and ask.
2. Again, write out what you want to say so that you can stay focused. Try to separate the myths from the facts.
3. Do your research: know all about your legislators (committees, recent votes and etc.) so that you will know what to expect.
4. B’nai B’rith sponsored buildings should reach out to us for assistance. We have hosted lawmakers at our sponsored buildings numerous times, and we can use our expertise to ensure the visit goes smoothly and your issues get discussed. Email us at email@example.com.
Tips for Meeting with your Legislator:
1. Know the status of the issue you are concerned about. Is there any major legislation pending that could impact affordable housing, health care, income security, nutrition issues and etc. The CSS team is always monitoring pending legislation to keep you updated on all issues.
2. State your concerns and explain how this impacts you. Tell them about your personal experiences…it works! They need to know how a bill will hurt or help you in everyday life. Tell a story with real emotion to show how much the issue really means to you.
3. Say exactly what you want the legislator to do, support a bill, oppose a bill or improve a bill to make it better.
4. Thank the legislator for their time and offer a firm handshake.
Tips to Remember!
1. Be in control. Don’t be intimidated. Politely explain what you want and don’t get sidetracked.
2. Be specific about what you want to see happen.
3. Get a firm answer.
4. Make it clear that you will monitor the legislator’s actions.
1. Senate https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact
2. House of Representatives https://www.house.gov/ (top right corner)