WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act that would provide $1.2 billion to ensure that federally-assisted senior housing facilities have the necessary resources to effectively protect residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It is unacceptable now more than ever that any senior housing property would lack the resources to keep their tenants healthy and safe,” said Brown. “We need to do our jobs and we need to act fast to ensure that all senior housing properties have the resources necessary to provide safe, high-quality housing for elderly residents and keep them connected to friends, family, and vital services in the community.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D- NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

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% 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.

Earlier this week, Sens. Brown and Menendez 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.

The text of the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act can be downloaded here.