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Government Assisted Housing

Housing Needs In The Twenty-first Century

HUD used three dimensions (1999) to identify housing conditions of older people: adequacy, affordability, and accessibility. Regarding adequacy, available data suggest that 7 percent of public housing for the elderly and 7 percent of Section 202 housing have moderate deficiencies but better conditions than market-rate rentals. Of the elderly population as a whole, 1.45 million still lack the most basic elements of housing security, such as safety, reliable plumbing, heat sources, or accommodation for those with limitations on activities of daily living (ADL). Nine percent of the units occupied by those with mobility problems are inadequate.

In spite of favorable economic conditions in the 1980s and 1990s, cost continued to be most widespread housing problem for the elderly. Nationally, 7 percent of all older people spent more than 30 percent of income for housing. There are not enough Section 202 and Section 8 funds to provide affordable homes for an eligible 1.5 million elderly.

Accessibility is crucial for older people with functional limitations and disabilities. HUD (1999) reported a need for home modification for 1.1 million older people. Although ADL limitations increase with age, HUD appropriations do not increase proportionately, and sometimes decline. (The $26 billion 2000 HUD budget was called "landmark" by the Clinton administration, when in fact the 1980 HUD budget was $80 billion.)

Perhaps a fourth dimension, appropriateness, is as crucial to recognize as the three just discussed. Lacking the understanding of and sensitivity to the needs of older people and persons with disabilities, both Congress and administrations since the 1950s have ignored needs for services in public housing and subsidized programs by accepting the premise that older persons belong either in a Section 202 or in a Section 8 unit or in a nursing home. Although HUD was mandated to develop services that would help older persons to move on a continuum, the needed services were never developed.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 2Government Assisted Housing - Section 202 And Section 8, Historical Phases, Housing Needs In The Twenty-first Century