The Loss of “Deeply Affordable” Housing for Seniors
As we learned recently, the White House proposed deep cuts severely affecting Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for fiscal year 2018, at a time when the supply of affordable housing is at an all-time low. According to a recent analysis from LeadingAge, a nonprofit serving the senior population, HUD funding would be cut by more than 14% compared to fiscal year 2017-enacted levels. In essence, there will be fewer dollars for new construction than in the past. In addition, rental subsidies needed by low and extremely low income seniors would be substantially less than anytime in the last 30 years.
To put this in practical terms, I’ll provide a quick example regarding subsidies. A senior residing in Oakland, California with a low income as defined by HUD makes less than $36,550 per year. This household makes less than 50% of the Area Median Income. Currently, a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland costs approximately $2,700 per month. Let’s say a person qualifies for affordable housing through Section 8 and their income is $16,000 (which qualifies as extremely low income) so their rent typically is about $400 per month. With these proposed cuts, the number of subsidized slots would decline substantially. Far fewer applicants would be included in the program, leaving tens of thousands utterly devastated. Any current resident of affordable housing with subsidized rent would remain unaffected.
At the same time the cuts would take effect, the need for affordable housing has never been direr. In an article published by California Health Report titled, California’s Lowest-Income Seniors Desperate for Affordable Housing, the housing authority in Los Angeles anticipates 600,000 people will likely apply for 20,000 slots on their wait lists. Applicants can wait five or more years before a space opens for them. Sadly some will pass away without ever having a place to call their own. Clearly, the demand is tremendous yet our current administration is looking to cut funding for new affordable homes and reduce subsidies for future senior residents.
In the coming months, California is likely to see more proposed legislation in an attempt to create more funds, streamline processes or reduce expenses for affordable housing developers. A recent article in the Sacramento Bee makes reference to some of them. In the coming months, I will be reviewing them and asking for your support with a Facebook post, a Tweet, a petition, or a phone call. On November 6, let’s pull together and vote to create more affordable housing for our vulnerable populations.