Written by Anthony Moujaes
Responding to the growing need for more affordable housing for seniors, low-income families and people with disabilities, the Council for Health and Human Ministries is asking that all settings of United Church of Christ, in an act of hospitality, call on Congress in the immediate future to resume funding those housing programs so vulnerable people and families aren't left without a home.
CHHSM's resolution goes before delegates of General Synod 2013, which gathers from June 28 through July 2 in Long Beach, Calif.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) provides funding for senior and family housing construction, but in 2012 there wasn't any money for new property developments, and the number of new housing units declined over the last several years.
That's partly why CHHSM is asking UCC "conferences, congregations, members and friends, along with the covenanted and associated ministries of the church's national setting, to express support for… funding for quality affordable housing."
"There is a biblical mandate to care 'for the least of these,' and that includes the seniors in our population who cared for us," said Danielle Bartz, a CHHSM program associate.
"Providing quality affordable housing with services for older adults is a good investment because it is estimated it costs government about 30 to 35 percent of what it would cost to live in a nursing home under the Medicare or Medicaid programs," the resolutions states. "Quality affordable family housing has a similar crisis. One-third of households are renters, and four out 10 pay more than 50 percent of their income for rent. Many are only one emergency away from being homeless."
According to the resolution, the senior population in the United States will double by 2030, and senior homelessness will increase 33 percent by the end of the decade. On average, there are about 10 people on waiting lists for every housing unit that becomes available, and there are 5.5 million fewer quality affordable units than are currently needed.
"[A] low-income housing tax credit program is addressing some of the needs for additional units, but as government financial conditions deteriorate, there is concern that this program might also be eliminated or seriously diminished," the resolution states.
In addition to the resolution, CHHSM will also be recognized for 75 years of ministry with a formal commendation. Part of the morning plenary on Saturday June 29 will recognize past and present CHHSM executives, staff and volunteers.
"CHHSM will be well represented at this year's General Synod," Bartz says. "Aside from our two resolutions, we will have a large exhibit highlighting our 75 years and all of our member ministries."
For more information on General Synod in Long Beach, visit the General Synod 2013 website.