Cisneros (left) and Martinez
Cisneros (left) and Martinez

Washington, DC – A national effort for remodeling services that would allow aging seniors to stay in their homes is among the programs being evaluated by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Former Republican and Democrat HUD Secretaries are steering the effort.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think-tank, announced a new Health and Housing Task Force to help set lawmakers set policy on the needs of the U.S. aging population. The BPC says stable, affordable housing also reduces health care system costs, particularly for seniors, most of whom wish to age in place.

The one-year effort is led by former Clinton Administration HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, former Republican Senator and Bush Administration HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, and former Representatives Allyson Schwartz and Vin Weber.

The BPS projects that by 2030, 73 million Americans will be 65 and older; nearly 9 million will be 85 and older. While surveys show an overwhelming number of seniors want to age in the current homes or communities, they are often not suited for independent living.

“Our aim is to call attention to this emerging challenge facing our nation,” said task force member and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. “This challenge offers incredible opportunity in the near-term, yet is on track to become a major crisis in the coming years if left unaddressed,” says Secretary Henry Cisneros.

Policy experts says United States is unprepared to cope with the needs of its rapidly aging population, and tight budgets worsen the problem.

“With fewer workers supporting more retirees, government budgets and social service delivery systems will be severely tested,” says former Senator Mel Martinez. “Our task force is seeking solutions ahead of the curve.”

The BPC’s Housing Commission has an existing Long-Term Care Initiative and the new task force will seek innovative approaches to senior housing needs. Among models being studies are the existing Department of Energy’s weatherization assistance program, which could offer a model for retrofitting senior citizens’ housing, Cisneros told reporters.

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