WASHINGTON, April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Legislation scheduled to pass Congress this week seriously undermines the only federally funded jobs and housing programs specifically targeted for America's low-income seniors. The FY 2011 Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 1473) includes:
- A $375 million, or 45%, cut in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
- A $425 million, or 51%, 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.
Employment and benefits are important pieces of the puzzle for older adults who are living on the edge of poverty. NCOA is committed to helping older adults build greater economic security and offers a variety of other resources, including:
- NCOA's Economic Security Service Centers, a pilot program to provide low-income older adults with one-on-one, holistic counseling that has helped more than 700 seniors develop personalized "economic action plans."
- BenefitsCheckUp.org, a free online screening tool that searches over 2,000 federal, state, local, and private programs to help seniors pay for prescription drugs, utility bills, meals, health care, and other needs.
- Benefits Enrollment Centers provide person-centered assistance to vulnerable seniors and younger adults with disabilities to find and enroll in all the benefits programs for which they are eligible.
- One Away, an innovative, national video advocacy campaign that gives voice to vulnerable older adults who are struggling to make ends meet in today's economy.
- The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which trains low-income workers aged 55+ and places them in community service jobs in 11 states, with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- The Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) program, which provides an opportunity for retired and unemployed older Americans aged 55+ to share their expertise in jobs for the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Home Equity and Reverse Mortgage Counseling, which helps millions of seniors make prudent use of their home equity so they can "use their home to stay at home."
For more information on NCOA's programs, please visit www.ncoa.org.
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for millions of older adults—especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged—and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, please visit: www.NCOA.org / www.facebook.com/NCOAging / www.twitter.com/NCOAging
SOURCE National Council on Aging