LeadingAge California is sponsoring SB 611 (Caballero, D-Salinas), which seeks to create the Housing Older Persons Effectively (HOPE) Task Force as a component of a larger master-plan on aging.
California’s rising housing costs are particularly affecting our older adults. As costs rise, retirement incomes, such as Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), have remained stagnant and many low-income seniors are struggling to pay their rent. As a result, California is seeing a “graying” of our homeless population, where more than half of the people experiencing homelessness are over age 57.
Today, one in 10 older adults live in poverty and one in three renters in California over age 65 are severely rent burdened, meaning they pay more than half of their income toward housing costs. These numbers are expected to increase as more people find themselves living in housing they cannot afford.
Over 35 percent of people over 65 live entirely on their social security benefit, which averages about $1,400 per month in the U.S. The fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in California is $1,335, leaving an average older adult renter with $65 a month to pay for food, healthcare costs and other necessities.
Rental housing is a popular housing option for older people who seek more accessibility and less maintenance. However, while there are over 200,000 older adults in affordable rental housing in California, almost two-thirds of senior households who qualify for affordable housing don’t receive it, because there is just not enough supply.
Senate Bill 611 addresses the housing needs of older adults by establishing the HOPE Task Force as part of the Master Plan for Aging. The HOPE Task Force will convene California’s foremost experts on housing issues to bring innovative and effective housing policy solutions to older adults with the following goals:
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing for older adults;
- Reducing barriers to providing healthcare and social services to older adults in affordable housing;
- Enabling individuals to access home modification and safety assessment services that allow aging in place; and,
- Increasing the supply of inter-generational affordable housing that is located near services and supports for older adults.
SB 611 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Housing Committee on April 22, 2019.