Recent congressional debate over the future of programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been heated. One aspect of the debate has focused on the cost and efficacy of federally assisted housing for older persons. While legislators argue the merits of these programs, a just released study sponsored by AARP places the human dimension of the housing crisis before the public. Waiting for Federally Assisted Housing: A Study of the Needs and Experiences of Older Applicants details the findings of a survey examining the circumstances of older applicants waiting for federally assisted housing in the City of Los Angeles and the County of San Bernardino. The survey was conducted by the National Eldercare Institute on Housing and Supportive Services at the University of Southern California.
The survey analyzed who applies for federal housing assistance, what their housing and neighborhood conditions are, why they apply, how long they wait for assistance, how they cope with their housing needs while waiting, and what unmet social service and income needs they experience.
The study found that the average older applicant in the study sample had been waiting for housing assistance for more than 2 years. While they were waiting, almost 60% of the applicants were paying more than half their monthly income for rent and utilities, and over 50% lived in housing with plumbing, heating, and other physical problems. The applicants' housing problems were compounded by their health and mobility difficulties. One of the most important findings of the survey was that many applicants reported unmet needs for social services that were available in their communities.
Readers interested in receiving a copy of Waiting for Federally Assisted Housing: A Study of the Needs and Experiences of Older Applicants should write to the Consumer Team, Public Policy Institute, AARP, 601 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20049.