The purpose of the rally was to demonstrate how important existing Section 202 buildings are for low-income seniors and to indicate the need for additional funding for affordable housing, specifically for older Americans. B’nai B’rith launched its senior housing program in 1968, and since 1971, in a cooperative partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we have made rental apartments available for senior citizens with limited incomes, primarily through the Section 202 programs.
In May, the Trump Administration released its full Fiscal Year 2018 Budget and for the first time, the residents of Section 202 buildings could see reductions in their rental subsidies.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is proposing to give the secretary of HUD the authority to increase rental contributions from 30 percent of adjusted income to 35 percent of gross income, and increase minimum rental payments to $50 a month. Increasing the minimum rental payments to $50 a month would impact people who make less than $2,000 a year. While the administration’s proposed budget has a hardship exemption, I am curious to hear from the Trump Administration as to which low-income seniors who make less than $2,000 don’t qualify for a hardship exemption.
I think all reasonable people can agree, seniors who make less than $2,000 a year don’t need the federal government increasing their rent!
With Congress ultimately responsible for writing the federal budget, having hundreds of people at the rally on Capitol Hill was a great way for the housing community to express its concern for low-income seniors.
Also, B’nai B’rith was extremely pleased to see Senators Bob Casey and Robert Menendez and Rep. Al Green at the rally expressing their support for the Section 202 program. These members of Congress represent residents in B’nai B’rith sponsored buildings across the country, and we certainly appreciate their commitment to seniors and affordable housing.
During the rally Sen. Menendez said, “I am proud to stand with you today and every day to fight to protect and expand affordable housing for seniors.” We certainly urge other members of Congress to support additional funding for senior affordable housing as the need will only increase.
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Evan Carmen, Esq. is the Assistant Director for Aging Policy at the B’nai B’rith International Center for Senior Services. He holds a B.A. from American University in political science and a J.D. from New York Law School. Prior to joining B’nai B’rith International he worked in the Office of Presidential Correspondence for the Obama White House, practiced as an attorney at Covington and Burling, LLP, worked as an aide for New York City Council Member Tony Avella and interned for Congressman Gary Ackerman’s office. Click here to read more from Evan Carmen.