Throughout 2021 and early 2022, the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services (CSS) has continued its advocacy efforts in Congress on behalf of our senior housing community. As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income, nonsectarian housing for seniors in the United States, B’nai B’rith is very aware of how critical government resources are for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded communities. Due to the pandemic, CSS continues to meet virtually with congressional offices who represent our sponsored buildings. Our efforts have focused on Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) funding for senior housing and the Administration’s Build Back Better agenda.
Regarding the Build Back Better agenda, we are supportive of the legislation because of the robust funding for senior housing and provisions that will make health care less expensive for Medicare recipients. B’nai B’rith was encouraged that the House of Representatives passed the act, however, we are disappointed the legislation looks stalled in the Senate. As an active advocate for low-income seniors, we believe this bill can positively impact the lives of older Americans. We are pleased the legislation includes $500 million for the HUD senior housing program, which includes new construction. With the number of low-income senior households growing, these funds can be used to provide much-needed new housing units to meet the demand.
In addition, this bill makes critical improvements to Medicare that will provide seniors with economic relief. For example, this legislation places a $2,000 cap on prescription drug spending, allows Medicare to negotiate certain drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and enacts other important reforms to slow down rising costs. We also welcome this legislation covering hearing benefits, including hearing aids—a win for so many seniors in communities across the country. While Build Back Better’s future remains unclear, we will continue to advocate to congressional offices and make the case for these critical provisions that would immeasurably help seniors.
Also, we are advocating for full FY22 funding for HUD senior housing, so rental subsidies and service coordination can go on without interruption and funds can be appropriated for the creation of additional housing units. Like previous years, our efforts are done in concert with the American Association of Service Coordinators (AASC), a natural ally to our advocacy work. What makes many of our buildings special are the service coordinators who work at the properties and connect residents with services that allows seniors to age in place and stay in their community. Service coordinators play a vital role in the operation of our senior housing buildings and their work has never been more critical than during the pandemic.
In December, B’nai B’rith was pleased to welcome Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) to address our 2021 Leadership Forum. Among the topics discussed was how the President’s Build Back Better agenda will impact older Americans regarding affordable housing and health care. In addition, Suozzi discussed legislation he introduced called the Well-Being Insurance of Seniors to be at Home (WISH) Act, designed to provide affordable long-term care insurance for seniors.
CSS’s advocacy efforts are a year-round activity and an integral part of our work. Ensuring the appropriate services for low-income seniors is our mission, and now more than ever, our work is critical!
Mark D. Olshan is Associate Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith International and Director of the Center for Senior Services. Click here to read more from Mark D. Olshan.
Janel Doughten is the associate director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Senior Services, focusing on the subsidized senior housing program. Click here to read more from Janel Doughten.
Evan Carmen, Esq. is the Legislative Director for Aging Policy at the B’nai B’rith International Center for Senior Services. Click here to read more from Evan Carmen.