Commission delivered final report to Congress on June 28, 2002
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November 07, 2001
  Contact: Ken Trepeta (202) 708-4302 Ext. 106

Federal Panel to Meet in San Diego to Focus on Housing and Health Crisis for Aging

"Seniors Commission" analysis finds poverty rate and other measurements don't reflect the declining living standards for older Americans, or the difficult senior housing and health care choices facing American families.

San Diego, CA - The Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century ("the Seniors Commission"), holding its only western U.S. field hearing here today, will review the results of its new research into the well being of older Americans and the cost, availability and coordination of housing and health services available aimed at assisting senior citizens. The Commission will also hear from residents of San Diego and other Southern California communities who have confronted firsthand the difficulties in finding appropriate housing and health services for parents, grandparents and other loved ones.

"The commission's researchers have detailed an enormous challenge now confronting America as we enter the 21st Century and brace for the first waves of Baby Boomer retirees," said Nancy Hooks, Seniors Commission Co-Chair. "It now becomes more important than ever before to design and implement a more effective, coordinated and efficient housing and health strategy focusing on the needs of seniors. To do so, the Commission is taking a hard look at the effectiveness of existing programs and the well being of seniors today in places like San Diego and across America."

According to research authorized by the Seniors Commission, current estimates that 10% of senior citizens in the United States live in poverty fail to provide policymakers with an accurate picture of the true living conditions of our nation's elders. The fact is that declining living standards for seniors and the inadequacies of current programs seeking to address senior housing and health concerns have created a deepening crisis for America's seniors, and their families. Specifically, the Commission's data indicates that 10.6 million of the nation's 21.2 million elderly households ought to be considered poor because of their inability to meet the cost of their housing and health care needs. There are over 6 million very low income elder homeowners and renters now having great difficulty in meeting increasingly burdensome housing costs or deal with poor or unsafe physical conditions in their dwellings. The problems of these struggling older Americans - most often women, minorities and those living alone - are further complicated by the encroachment of physical disabilities and even severe cognitive declines. In fact, the Commission finds that more than one out of every four low-income or poor seniors over age 65 faces a particularly uncertain future because they have ailments that threaten their ability to live independently.

This crisis is growing at a time when more than two million senior citizens - typically in their role grandparents - are facing new demands as caretakers for America's children. In fact, it is estimated that in 1998, 5.6% of all children under 18 in the U.S. were being raised in grandparent-maintained families with or without parents present.

"The new research paints an alarming picture," said Ellen Feingold, Seniors Commission Co-Chair. "Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors are having their incomes and life savings stretched to the limit by rising housing, health care and child-rearing costs. We must examine existing programs and initiatives, and make absolutely certain that policies and funding priorities reflect the reality facing seniors in San Diego and other communities across the country."

The "Seniors Commission" is a bi-partisan 14-member panel created by an act of Congress to study and report back to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on the housing and health needs for the next generation of older American. The Commission is empowered to offer specific policy and legislative recommendations for enhancing services and increasing the available housing for this important and growing segment of our society.

The page was last modified on December 7, 2001