Housing for the United States’ growing senior population is one of his department’s top priorities, according to former presidential candidate and current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. He spoke this week at the annual convention of LeadingAge Florida, an association of nonprofit senior housing and care providers.
“America must remain a world leader in our philosophies, policies, and programs for senior living,” said Carson’s prepared statement for the event, which took place in Championsgate, Florida. “This is a top priority for my department…to give seniors more opportunities, more alternatives, more choices, and, if desired, to help more people age in place.”
As the keynote speaker of the conference and in accompanying written comments, Carson discussed his concerns about limited affordable housing for seniors, and what HUD has done to improve the situation.
HUD has engaged in public-private partnerships that give developers access to in-demand property and relieve taxpayers of the burden of paying for assisted and affordable housing, he said.
In the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., there has been a demand for housing and HUD-owned property in the area, according to Carson’s prepared statement. So, the department sought out an opportunity that would benefit developers, residents and taxpayers.
“We made developers include assisted housing and affordable housing renters as part of any developmental deal,” said Carson’s prepared statement. “The developer had to provide for them, or no deal. In response, the developers agreed, building housing units that were equal or superior to ours, and allowing residents to use the facilities provided for high-end buyers, such as common areas, pool rooms, and others places that are very nice. All through the creative use of financing and leveraging, liquidity and ideas from the private sector were put to public use. And, it relieved the taxpayers of many costs, providing a budget neutral solution.”
This model represents a solution to providing affordable senior housing that will keep Americans in good physical and financial health as they age, said Carson.
He also outlined HUD’s proposed regulations on reverse mortgages to ensure that seniors are in good standing and well prepared to use the program, and that lenders disclose all conditions.
HUD also release a report last month on the health of seniors and the importance of fall prevention, according to the statement.
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“We found that many strategies were overlooked, especially in the design of affordable care facilities, assisted living facilities, and other buildings,” Carson’s statement said. “What is required is more attention to the needs of seniors. The buildings must be designed, constructed, and maintained to prevent falls.”
HUD provided three-year grants to several housing facilities to hire wellness coordinators and other staff to implement these safety initiatives, according to the statement.
Written by Elizabeth Jakaitis