The US House of Representatives today approved an amendment offered by Congressman Edward R. Roybal (DCalif) to restore $5 million in fiscal year 1980 funds for congregate housing services for older persons.
The funds were part of $10 million that was approved last year for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide supportive services to the elderly that would help them remain independent in their own homes. Roybal's amendment was supported by all the subcommittee chairmen and ranking members of the House Select Committee on Aging.
Roybal chairs the Subcommittee on Housing and Consumer Interests of the Aging Committee and is a member of the Committee on Appropriations, which approves budgets for all federal programs.
"All of us are conscious of doing our part to achieve a balanced budget, but the type of savings being proposed- reducing by 50% congregate housing services to the elderly-is counterproductive to cost reduction efforts," Roybal told House members. "It costs between $10,000 and $22,000 a year to maintain a person in a nursing home and only about $1,800 to help a person at home with congregate housing services."
HUD's Congregate Housing Services Program was created in 1978 through an amendment cosponsored by Roybal. In 1979, HUD funded 38 projects and is evaluating about 380 applications for 1980 funding. "To cut the 1980 program by 50% would be a great disservice to the elderly population ... and cripple the program," Roybal said.
Roybal also pointed out that congregate housing services programs are designed to fill gaps where services are not available. "For example," he said, "congregate housing residents need two or three group meals a day, seven days a week, whereas the nutrition program of the Older Americans Act provides only one meal a day, five days a week. It assists local housing authorities and Section 202 housing sponsors in putting together comprehensive packages for their impaired elderly residents."