Affordable Housing Commission Divided

Article excerpt

On several issues, members of the federal Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century were bitterly divided along party lines. Key questions for debate included: How many older households with housing problems require a programmatic response? How valid are the data sources? How correct are the assumptions underlying projections of need? Which groups of older Americans should be targeted for assistance? Should the commission's mandate include, as one commissioner put it, broad-brushed proactive ideas as opposed to prescriptive solutions-such as recommending specific production goals for affordable housing? And is there a need for major program restructuring or radical reform? The schism over these and other issues resulted in the commission's sending Congress both the "Majority Report" and the "Minority Report," whose authors were primarily divided along Republican-Democratic party lines.

FUTURE NEED ARGUED

The future need for affordable rental housing was an especially divisive issue. The "Majority Report" stopped short of recommending a specific production quota for new rent-assisted units. In contrast, the "Minority Report" called for a major increase in the production of rent-subsidized units for elders to 60,000 units annually through 2020, instead of the current 20,000 units.

The "Minority Report" also argued that the "Majority Report" failed to make recommendations to ensure that the most needy older Americans could avail themselves of "affordable housing and health and supportive services to enable them to live in dignity and safety, now and into the 21st century. …