Comment: Congress must support housing options for the elderly

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by DANA PARSONS and Courtney Nuzzofor the Sun Gazette

Between 2009 and 2019, the number of very low-income senior households spending more than half of their income on rent increased by 82%.

Waiting lists for affordable housing for older people often last for several years, putting older people in the Commonwealth at risk of homelessness. These realities, coupled with the continuing shortage of affordable housing, prevent older Virginians from aging with dignity, choice and independence.

We’re not getting any younger here in Virginia either. According to a report commissioned by LeadingAge, a national organization that advocates for nonprofit aging service providers, Virginia’s senior population is expected to grow nearly 51% over the next 20 years, from 1.3 million in 2017. to 1.9 million in 2040.

Non-profit communities for seniors receive applications every month from people desperate for safe, affordable housing. We strive to provide an environment that both enhances the lives of aging people and contributes to their continued independence.

Now is the time to urge your representatives in Congress to fund and expand access to affordable housing. Let Congress know it can help by providing strong funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, expanding the supply of affordable housing, connecting HUD-assisted residents, and investing in new housing.

We urge our state and federal leaders to expand affordable housing because a safe place to live is a key part of how seniors access the care and services they need.

Dana Parsons is vice president and legislative counsel for LeadingAge Virginia, an association of nonprofit aging service organizations serving residents and clients across the continuum of aging care.

Courtney Nuzzo is the Executive Director of Lewinsville Retirement Residence at McLean.

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