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Velázquez Announces New Home Health Care Bill to Benefit Seniors and Residents

By Eileen Elliott

June 2008

Representative Nydia Velázquez held a press conference at the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA’s) Lower East Side 1 in Manhattan on the morning of May 12th to announce new legislation that would benefit NYCHA’s resident and seniors. 

If passed, the “Home Health Services Job Training and Caregiving Act of 2008” will create a three-year federal pilot training program, providing $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for public housing residents to receive training from State-certified organizations. The newly trained aides would then be matched with elderly or disabled public housing residents who are Medicaid eligible. “By 2030, the last of the baby boomers will be at least 65 years old,” the Congress Member told the seniors and community based supporters gathered in the Community Center. “That will be a challenge for us. With seniors making up one-third of our residents adequate health care must be in place.” Noting that home health care costs less than half that of institutionalized care, the Congress Member promised, “We are going show the administration this is a smart thing to do.”

Congress Member Velázquez went on to say that the benefits of the bill are twofold: it will create job opportunities for public housing residents and it will provide much needed services for NYCHA’s senior population. “Our parents and grandparents deserve to stay in their homes as long as it is safe for them to do so,” Ms. Velázquez said.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Chairman Dennis Rivera committed the support of his organization’s 1.9 million members and emphasized that the legislation would benefit senior public housing residents nationwide, not just in New York City. “All studies show that seniors would rather be home than in an institutional setting,” Mr. Rivera said.

A high percentage of public housing residents across the country are seniors: according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—35% in Chicago, 33%in Boston and 40% in Los Angeles. In New York City, 34.5% of NYCHA’s households are headed by a senior aged 62 or older.

This program is a win-win for everyone,” said NYCHA Vice-Chairman Earl Andrews, Jr. And what are the next steps for the bill?

“The first thing is to get this pilot program legislation passed at the Federal level,” said the Congress Member. “Then it can “be replicated.”

LES I, a seniors-only facility, completed in 1988, is home to over 390 residents.