Committee praises bill expanding low-income seniors housing

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Senators and witnesses extolled the merits of a bill that would expand Section 202 housing services for low-income seniors at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee Thursday.

The bill, S. 118, would expand the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 202 housing program for seniors to provide more capital grants to nonprofit community development organizations. Besides funding construction of new seniors' housing developments, the bill would provide grants for preserving and improving the 6,000 existing Section 202 developments. Demand for these low-income housing units for seniors already outstrips the supply, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI). It is estimated that an additional 730,000 units will be needed by 2020 to match demand.

S. 118 also would create a national database of Section 202 facilities to help seniors find affordable housing, and make it easier for owners to convert properties into assisted living facilities that make health and supportive services available to residents.