The cuts to senior citizens continue in the fiscal year 2011 budget according to the National Council on Aging.
Under the FY 2011 Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 1473), $375 million, or 45%, is cut from the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and another $425 million, or 51%, was cut in the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program.
“If leaders in Washington were really serious about reducing unemployment and providing help to Americans with the greatest need, they would not have agreed to such large cuts in jobs and housing programs for low-income seniors,” said Jim Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
SCSEP is the only major jobs program targeted specifically to helping older adults who need to remain in or return to the workforce to avoid financial crisis. Those eligible for SCSEP have extremely low incomes, usually 125% of the federal poverty line or less, although nearly 90% of all participants live in poverty with annual incomes at or below $10,890. This cut would result in the loss of 58,000 part-time jobs. And according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, older workers who have lost a job are more likely than any other age group to face very long-term unemployment and remain jobless for 99 weeks or more.
The lack of affordable senior housing is a long-standing problem that is growing more acute as our population ages. For every unit of federal housing assistance that becomes available, 10 seniors are on waiting lists, with increasing numbers homeless. According to a recent survey, 1.3 million elders have worst-case housing needs.
Currently 1 in 3 seniors is economically insecure, living on an annual income of less than $22,000. Jobs and affordable housing are just two of many core components that empower older adults with the opportunities and resources necessary to live independently in their own homes and communities.
“NCOA urges Congress and the Administration to make investments in jobs and housing programs to help older Americans who are just one bad break away from bankruptcy and homelessness,” said NCOA’s Firman.