July 02, 2020

Wyden Co-sponsors Bill to Ensure Seniors in Federal Housing Can Live Safely, Stay Healthy during Pandemic

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today co-sponsored legislation that would provide $1.2 billion to ensure federally-assisted senior housing facilities have the resources to protect residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Seniors in Oregon and across the country face serious dangers from both COVID-19 and inaction from the federal government to protect them,” Wyden said. “Congress must ensure seniors can remain in their homes and have the proper safeguards to stay healthy. The Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act would provide those urgently needed resources for federally-assisted senior housing facilities to protect their vulnerable residents.”

The Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act of 2020 would provide $1.2 billion to the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance programs, including $845 million for obtaining PPE, cleaning and disinfecting properties, hiring additional staff and providing rental assistance. 

The average age of residents in Section 202 properties for older adults is 79, and nearly 39 percent of residents are older than age 80. Their average annual income falls below $14,000 and there are profound disparities in both COVID-19 infections and virus-related deaths.

The bill also includes:

  • $50 million to install Wi-Fi services in senior housing communities;
  • $7 million to extend the Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing (IWISH) program for one year; and
  • $300 million to expand service coordination.

Wyden joined U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to introduce the bill, as well as U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The legislation is endorsed by AARP, Leading Age and B'nai B'rith International.

Earlier this week, Wyden introduced the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act to expand access to critical assistance programs and services for millions of families struggling to remain in their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout. According to research, homeowners who receive counseling have a better chance at avoiding default, protecting their credit scores, reducing debt and securing mortgage modifications.

A copy of the bill text is available here.