The Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility
Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century
November 7, 2001
Thank you for permitting me to speak to you. I am a senior. I know you didn't figure that out. So I thought I'd better tell you. I'm also a recipient of this Section 8 program. I've lived there for several years.
You know, when I first -- when I first became a Section 8 person, it was as a result of the time when I needed an apartment and someone said to me, "Why don't you go to Sojourner Truth? That's a senior citizens housing project." Right away, "Senior citizen?" I had to go through all of that and -- but I needed an apartment. So I went and checked it out. I qualified. I was accepted.
When I moved in, I started to notice the people around me, which were like me, and also in various levels of the way that they felt. There were those who felt that life is good, "I'm doing okay." There were those who was (sic) kind of worried about how they were going to make it. Then there were those who had their aches and pains and that's all that they talked about.
I became involved with the tennis association and, after working with them for a bit, they asked me to become chairman of that. Then we started to work on changing the attitudes around, as much as we could, the project.
The mayor asked if I would serve on the Commission on Aging for the city of Oakland and I did for several years there. I served as its chairman for a while, and that broadened my scope of what the needs were in terms of the seniors in that area. Then I worked on several projects during that time.
There's nothing that I heard today that I haven't kind of experienced in my being involved. All of the things that have been going on that they're urging you to deal with, I'm urging you also to deal with.
But there's one other thing that has bothered me more than anything else, and that is when Ms. Hooks, I think it was, was speaking this morning and she was talking about one of the legislatures that said to her, "If you want money, it's going to be put on the shelf." That's the most disturbing thing to me.
We just had a tragedy in this country where, on the 11th of September -- changed our whole thinking. As a result of that, immediately, immediately all the money that was necessary to deal with that problem was provided. As of this day, millions of dollars are going into that effort. It's the will that they have that -- to deal with the problem.
If they're going to put it on the shelf, they do not have the will to deal with the senior problems of this country. I am urging you to make sure that they know that we are saying deal with it. Have the will to deal with it. We've got baby boomers coming. If they don't want to deal with it now, what do you think they're going to do then? Because it's going to be -- you've heard the statistics. I don't have to try to give them to you.
So my urging you is to tell them and Washington the 202 program as minimum -- I was at a workshop yesterday and they said, "We're going to build 6,000 units this year." Six thousand units. Competitively, those of you who might get through will be recipients of that. We just heard today, in Los Angeles alone, 150,000 on a waiting list. That's saying nothing about what's on the waiting list in Oakland.
So what I'm saying is that we need more money. I hope you don't be hesitant to tell them we need more money and the 202 program to get more housing. We need housing. We need transportation. We need food. All of that is needed. Please don't hesitate. Tell them in Washington, we need money.