Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act, 2016

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SeniorHome Modification Assistance Initiative Act, 2016

SeniorHome Modification Assistance Initiative Act, 2016

Agood number of elderly people are currently in danger of beinghomeless in the United States than at any other time since. This isdue to the fact that it is hard for them to purchase and own properhousing [ CITATION USD16 l 1033 ].Unemploymentand ever increasing housing costs are cited as the impetus to thiscrisis. Longitudinal patterns and changes from the year 2010 suggestthat even as the situation seems worse with this particular group,they are deemed to benefit from the current recovery of the nationaleconomy. However, this vulnerable community has not been left at themercy of the economy. The Congress has introduced a bill calledSenior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act, no. S – 3230.This bill, if enacted into law, will amend the OlderAmericans Act of 1965 andguide the Federal Government to complete an initiative to coordinategovernment resources. This will enable the government to give homemodifications to the older people to bolster and empower them to livefreely and securely in an up-to-date home environment. Moreover,through the proposed Act, the government will recognize anddistribute an instructive brochure on home modifications and repairsfor use by elderly people endeavoring to live autonomously andsecurely in their homes and by their caregivers [ CITATION Bip16 l 1033 ].As such, it is the core interest of this paper to discuss theproposed bill, Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act2016, by delving deeper into the social and political impetus thatpropels it and its significance in solving the challenge at hand.Moreover, it is highly necessary that the potential ramifications(political, social or economical) of the bill be looked into keenly,and that is also part of the larger theme.

TheCurrent Legislation

TheSenior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Bill aims to amend theOlder American Act of 1965. The bill seeks to carry out an initiativeto get federal resources. Funding efforts that it initiates willprovide home modifications for elderly people living in America. Thiswill enable this elderly community to live a more comfortable life intheir own homes safely and independently. As noted above, the billalso seeks to provide a brochure that consists of educational factson the modifications and repairs that could be done on the proposedhomes. Also, The U.S. Congress should approve another ModificationAssistance Initiative (MAI)that would chip away at an interagency premise to coordinate federalassets accessible for home modifications to provide the necessarysupports to this elderly community. It will be achieved throughcoordination with the U.S.Housing and Urban Development(HUD) whose responsibility will be to advice and correctly, channelfederal resources towards helping these elderly people acquireappropriate and comfortable dwellings.

Moreover,the bill will also ensure that the U.S. Congress comes up withsupportive legislation that not only tackles housing problem, butalso ensuring quick and easy access to Medicaid to this category ofpeople when needed. This will be enacted by modernizing the U.S.Division of Farming`s (USDA) Section 504 for housing repair andimprovement program. Individual States will also be required to buildup and grow projects to help seniors with low income acquireappropriate homes through property charge credits and awards amongothers.

ThePublic Effect of the Legislation

Thelast actiontakenby the Senate on the Senior Home Modification Assistance InitiativeBill was on July 14, 2016. The bill was read twice and is nowreferred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.The bill has not been passed in both houses to become law as yet.However, the public reaction to the bill is so overwhelminglypositive. So far, various people at community levels have come upwith a number of housing programs that mainly target the elderly whoare not only homeless but also have low income. Even as some of thenoted programs started in 2013, the move is seen as a reaction to thediscussion and public opinion surrounding the bill [ CITATION Nat09 l 1033 ].

Thenumber of elderly people, who are homeless, has kept on diminishingsince the bill was introduced in both the Senate and House floors.These declines are likely due to the fact that the introduction ofthe bill created some awareness among the members of the public. Eversince, the community projects aimed at alleviating the status ofelderly homelessness in various states and neighborhood communitieshave progressively become a core interest on permanent housingarrangements such as permanent steady housing and re-housing. SinceOctober 2016, permanent steady housing limit has grown by almost 60percent [ CITATION MWi10 l 1033 ].This is an indication that the introduction of the bill has had somepositive impact on the society’s understanding of homelessnessamong the elderly.

Homelessnessamong the elderly might as well diminish altogether by 2020 if thispublic reaction and perception is anything to count on. On the otherhand, it is most unlikely that the legislation may have some impacton the housing market in general. This is because the current pricesof housing in the U.S are high due to a combination of factorsamongst which homelessness of the elderly is not part. In otherwords, by housing these homeless seniors, there seems to be noindication that the housing market will react, either positively ornegatively, as a consequence [ CITATION Nat09 l 1033 ].Currently, housingis hard to get and keep up for a vast majority of the American peoplebecause of an absence of reasonable housing stock joined withdeficient and stagnant wages. This was the situation preceding therecession, exacerbated amid the recovery, and has even become worsewith the weak economic growth that is being experienced in thecountry. Concisely, therefore, it is succinct to say that the passageof the bill into law will not have any public effect especially onthe housing market in the U.S.

SocialConditions Causing the Bill

Atthe point when the bill was being introduced, homelessness among theelderly was at the worst condition. This proved that not so manypeople recognize the plight of the elderly community. Homelesselderly individuals are often overlooked not just by the government,but also by various advocacy groups in this country. The poverty rateamong the very group was 13% by 2008, which was the highest and mostastonishing poverty rate among any particular group of people since1997[ CITATION USD16 l 1033 ].Subjectto records, from the 1960s, the number of individuals (elderly orjust working population) has never been that high like the recorded2008 poverty rate among elderly people.

Thepoverty rate among the senior population has remained measurablyunaltered for people who are 65 years old or more, the figure standsat 10%. Among this population of homeless elderly, almost 90% stay inunsafe zones that expose them to immense danger. Given the situation,the number of homeless elderly people has been on the rise therebymaking the matter not just urgent, but also a moral cause. A goodexample as to why it is factual that the homelessness among the olderpeople is moving to the zone of dangerous can be seen given thestatistics recorded in Massachusetts, where from 1999 to 2008, thepercentage of homeless has increased from 20% to 60% [ CITATION USD16 l 1033 ].Theseare some of the social conditions that might have forced Congress toconsider introducing the bill in order to assist these elderly peopleacquire descent and secure homes.

Inthe year 2008, the number of elderly Americans who live in &quotprofoundpoverty&quot —those whose economic income fall below the povertythreshold — increased tremendously. Almost 6% of Americans ingeneral — or 17 million of them — had their incomes reduceddrastically during the economic recession [ CITATION USD16 l 1033 ].And this, besides causing a downtrend reduction in household income,also disadvantages the elderly people as the support they receivefrom the society shrinks considerably thus exacerbating the housingcrisis among many of them.

Anothersocial issue that adds the impetus to this growing crisis is rural –urban migration. Many elderly people prefer staying in cities [ CITATION Nat09 l 1033 ].And oncein the urban areas, these elderly homeless people regularly discoverthat it is not easy to move around. It not just movement andinadequacy of information that worsen the situation, there are otherstructural problems that the elderly people experience once they arein an urban dwelling. Stairs become difficult for them to climb, anda good number of these seniors suffer from visual impairment. These,among other factors, make it almost essential to assist elderlypeople acquire descent homes.

Anothersocial factor that might have initiated the discussion around thislegislation is the fact that people with poor living conditions tendto have a shatter life span as compared to those with decent housing.Subject to research, homelessness death rates in North America andEurope are very high [ CITATION MWi10 l 1033 ].It has been demonstratedthat homeless elderly people are three times more inclined to diethan other individuals from the general population. It has beencontextually analyzed that, the lifespan of homeless people is notmore than 52 years they cannot reach 80 years of age [ CITATION Nat09 l 1033 ].Thestudy additionally demonstrated that unexpected deaths regularlycomes about because of intense and incessant therapeutic conditionsexperienced by homeless life instead of either mental ailment or drugabuse. In other words, it almost undeniable that some of thesecompelling statics are behind the initiation and tabling of theSeniors’ Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act 2016.

TheHistorical Links and United States Policy

Thehistory of federal legislation aiming at reducing homeless among theelderly is long it does not begin with this particular bill, neitherwill it end there. Subject to research, the number of homelesselderly people began to develop in the 1980s and 1990s, as housingand social administration financial cuts, expanded. This created anurgency of dealing with this homelessness among elderly people. Inorder to help alleviate the problem, President Ronald Reagan signedthe McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act into law in 1987[ CITATION Nat09 l 1033 ].This then marked the onset of federal legislation on homelessnessespecially among the elderly. Overthe previous decades, the accessibility and nature of information onhomelessness have enhanced extensively. Almost two millionindividuals, or around 0.5% of the U.S. populace, utilized anemergency protection or a transitional housing program betweenOctober 2008 and September, 2009.

Justamid the great recession, President Obama’s administration came upwith various legislations aimed at dealing with the homelessnessemergency. TheAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009)was introduced just to do that, in which about $1.5 billion wasallocated for the HomelessnessPrevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) [ CITATION MWi10 l 1033 ].Themotivation behind HPRP was to help people and families who aregenerally healthy and not incessantly homeless in doing away withhomelessness or averting homelessness of the powerless population. OnMay 20, 2009, President Obama signed theHomeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing(HEARTH) Actinto a Public Law. This reauthorized the HUD as Homeless Assistanceprograms. In other words, homelessness among the elderly did notbegin in the recent past, but has been part of both social as well aspolitical discourse.

TheSupporters and Sponsors of the Bill

Dr.Anand Parekh is a key player who supports this bill as he offersinformation on its importance and the benefits. He mentions that thebill will contribute immensely to a better understanding of theeffectiveness of the programs of the Federal that are aimed to enablethe elderly citizens to be independent and live securely in theirhomes. On the other hand, the Sponsor of this Bill is Sen. King AngusS. Jr. with Co-Sponsors dated 7/14/2016 Sen. Ayotte, Kelly and Sen.Collins, and Susan dated on 9/08/2016[ CITATION Bip16 l 1033 ].The Party identified is Republican. Similarly,any other group has not supported the bill more than the BipartisanPolicy Center whichDr. Anand Parekh, BPC senior counsel, represents. With respect to thepresentation of the Senior Home Modification Assistance InitiativeAct of 2016, the bill nearly adjusts to proposals offered by BPC`slate Task Force report of housing. The report stresses that HealthyAging Begins at Home.This has offered immense support to the legislation especially withregard to public awareness of its significance and intended purpose.In order to drive the point home and create public awareness on thestate of elderly homelessness in the U.S., BPC`s wrote articlepraising Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for theirbipartisan effort and presentation of the Senior Home ModificationAssistance Initiative Act of 2016.

TheOpposition to the Legislation

Anextensive search from the internet shows that no one opposes thebill. The bill was just introduced in the Senate this year, July.Nonetheless, even as the bill is yet to become law, there is no doubtthat it will receive immense support from the majority of theSenators and U.S. representatives in both the Senate and Houserespectively.


Althoughthe Republicans have over the years accused liberal Democrats ofinitiating social policies and increasing welfare, the fact that theconservative Republicans introduced this bill shows the dramaticpolicy shift between the two parties. Both sides have been able tosee clear to pass such laws in light of the problem that isexperienced by people in the elderly community. And although the billhas not been a joint effort, I believe this is a giant step forwardin bridging the divide in the American political system thatparalyzes the country`s growth in general [ CITATION Nat09 l 1033 ].

TheSocial Justice

Thehomeless elderly people suffer from economic strain and have noassets. A lot of their economic gains normally go down to settlingtheir housing bills. Moreover, many of them find it difficult tomanage the ever-rising cost of the housing thus subjecting them topoverty. The impacts of economics and housing patterns are regularlydeferred. This implies that homelessness may not be influenced bythese factors quickly, but rather measures of serious housing costcan subject people to live in poor conditions. This also increasesthe approaching risk of not only homelessness but also poverty andshorter life spans [ CITATION MWi10 l 1033 ].Therefore, by coming up with the bill will solve this socialchallenge since the elderly people are not just human beings, butalso Americans. It is a social justice if they too get proper andsecure housing through the proposed bill.


Thehomeless elderly people are often ignored. This takes place as theirnumbers keep on increasing. I have spent much time thinking aboutthis group of people in our society, and the best possible ways ofassisting them. Therefore, when I discovered that Congress is justabout to legislate on the Senior Home Modification AssistanceInitiative Act 2016, I felt very proud and happy. I now know thateven as many of these elderly people are homeless, they are justabout to get help. Most of what is shown in the print media andtelevision are only the tips of the iceberg. Most of the images ofthe homeless older people lying on the streets at night are far toobad and arouses emotions and sympathy. However, in a rare fashion,the Congress has lived up to its responsibility to the Americanpeople by agreeing to legislate on this bill. Ultimately, thoughlate, these elderly homeless people will find secure and properhousing.


TheSenior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Bill aims to amend theOlder American Act of 1965. The bill seeks to find a means ofmobilizing federal resources to help the elderly and homelessAmericans get descent and secure homes. In other words, it willprovide home modifications for the elderly people living in America.Politically, the bill also does more than just solve the homelessseniors. IT also helps to bridge the divide that has always been partof the American political discourse. So far, there is no evidence ofDemocrats in both the Senate and the House of Representativesopposing the bill. Although the bill has not been a joint effort, Ibelieve this is a good step in rallying the American people aroundthe issues that matter to the success and wellbeing of the country.The entire agenda of getting secure and conducive homes for theelderly has also received a major boost not just from theoverwhelming positive public opinion, but it has also receivedsupport from the Bipartisan Policy Centre and many other advocacygroups. This has led to small but measurably potential decline inhomelessness among the elderly people around the country. Thesedeclines are likely due to the fact that the introduction of the billcreated some awareness among the members of the public. In otherwords, I believe that ultimately, though late, these elderly homelessAmericans will find help.


BPC. (2016). Healthy Aging Begins at home. Bipartisan Policy Centre, 1-34.

Housing U.S Department of. (2016). The State of Homelessness in America. Homelessness Research Institute, 1-56.

National Coalition of Homeless. (2009). Homelessness Among Elderly Persons. National Coalition for Homeless, 1-4.

Sermons, M. W., &amp Henry, M. (2010). Demographics of Homelessness Series: The Rising Elderly Population. Homeless Research Institute, 1-56.

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