Empowered Residents from Fellowship Square Rally DC
Washington DC — May 8, 2019
More than 100 empowered elder residents from Fellowship Square affordable housing properties in Maryland and Virginia gathered at the U.S. Capitol today to urge Congress to protect and expand affordable housing for older adults. These seniors joined their voices with hundreds of other Americans of advanced age from across the country as part of the Senior Housing Now rally.
The need for affordable housing for older adults has exploded nationally and locally. Older adults represent 66% of the recent increase in “worst case housing needs” households, according to a recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report.
- Only 1 in 3 low-income seniors (34%) receive the housing assistance they are eligible for because the programs are small compared to real need. Concerningly, with housing and rental costs soaring and health care costs rising, older adults are at greater risk of homelessness than at any time in recent history, according to Justice in Aging.
To address this trend, the Senior Housing Now rally urged Congress to:
- Protect and expand HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly programthat provides capital advances and operating assistance to finance the development of housing for elderly residents. (see specific policy requests.)
Only 1 in 3 eligible seniors receive housing assistance. Older adults on limited incomes in the greater D.C. region have few places to live.
Seniors of limited means used to be able to stay in their homes or downsize into rental apartments. Today in our area, however, older renters get squeezed out as rents have exploded. Housing costs are at an all-time high in our region, resulting in fewer and fewer options for seniors on limited incomes. Current funding levels for affordable housing are not keeping pace with demand. The lack of expanded federal funding translates into older adults being treated as third-class citizens, as only one-third of eligible low-income seniors currently receiving housing assistance.
– Christy Zeitz, CEO of Fellowship Square, a co-host of the rally.
The Senior Housing NOW rally was organized by aging education/advocacy organization Leading Age and co-hosted locally by Fellowship Square with other housing and service providers for older adults.
It took two years on a waitlist for me to get into an affordable housing apartment for seniors. I’m one of the lucky ones. There are millions of others of older adults like me who face the very scary reality of ending up on the streets without the assistance of affordable housing. Congress can do something about this, and that is why I am going to the Senior Housing Now rally.
Sadie McLemore, 84, of Fellowship Square’s Hunter Woods affordable housing community in Reston, Va., participated in the May 8th Senior Housing Now rally on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to expand affordable housing for low-income seniors like her. Sadie needed to downsize from the Reston-area house where she raised her family when she could no longer navigate the stairs, then spent four years on a waitlist to get into affordable housing because of the scarcity of units in the region.
Additional photos available. Email Shelley Ducker or call 202-255-0561.
Quotes From Fellowship Square Residents at the Rally
As I grew older, I was unable to get up and down the stairs in my house. A few times, I fell on the stairs. I knew I could no longer live there safely, but as I looked around for one-level apartments I realized I had few options. I was on an affordable housing waitlist for nearly 4 years as my physical health was declining. With my apartment now, I am able to stay close to my church community. While I can no longer drive, I have transportation provided so I can get my groceries and medical appointments. I’m out here today to show Congress that the funding given to affordable housing for seniors like me has real-world, real-life impact. I’m here to make sure that others can also have access to affordable housing options, without a four year waitlist. I may be growing old and I may be slowing down, but I know a closed mouth never gets fed. So I am here at the rally to use my voice and share my opinion! Congress needs to understand the importance of these programs and support them.
– Veronica Gaither, 75, Fellowship Square’s Largo Landing community in Largo, MD
Local rents are so much higher than my monthly benefits check. I’d been living with my adult daughter for several years. When she had a scare in a near-miss car accident, I realized that if anything ever happened to my daughter, I could end up on the street with no place to live. That scared me. It took two years on a waitlist for me to get into an affordable housing apartment for seniors. I had to sell my car as I couldn’t afford car payments and car insurance. Now, I have a place to live that has an active community of residents my age, and that provides bus transportation to help me do my errands and get to appointments. I’m one of the lucky ones. There are millions of others of older adults like me who face the very scary reality of ending up on the streets without the assistance of affordable housing. Congress can do something about this, and that is why I am going to the Senior Housing Now rally.
– Sadie McLemore, 84, Fellowship Square’s Hunter Woods community in Reston, VA