This course study will dwell on the subject of the House Bill 1935 in Pennsylvania, how it came to be and the contributing factors that necessitated its emergence as a bill of rights for the elderly. Likewise, this study shall review other related studies and find the current approaches and support mechanism it receives from various government agencies and representatives.
As an important factor in the lives of every individual, a roof over one’s head is a basic need that is a vital necessity to life. For many, it offers a form of security that can be a bulwark against fear of homelessness, institutionalization, and isolation (Comijs, et al, 1998:886).
The elderly individuals in PA need an ideal laboratory to age in place considering that elderly household represents 31% of the nations 1.1M public housing households (Dolon and Blakely, 1989:31). It is understood that elderly individuals consider the home as a form of security that guards them against ill-treatment and invasion which is an indispensable factor in their retirement years.
Throughout the 1960s, older Americans with lower income were accommodated through large number of developments that built traditional apartments. Public housing did not originally target older Americans at all (US-HR; 1981).
This was considered adequate for the majority of low-income older residents; although this housing program does not provide the flexibility to allow residents to age in place, nor does it necessarily provide the range of housing options needed to serve the increasing share of frail seniors (US Nat’l Center for Assisted Living, 2001) (Pifer and Bronte, 1986).
More recently though, the elderly resident population is changing radically, bringing new challenges to public housing providers (Kassner, 2005). Undeniably, the increasing adult population are not only poorer, they are also older and a disproportionate minority and female, and more likely to be alone (US Nat’l Center for Assisted Living, 2001).
These population demographics are increasing and as baby boomers age, the US government and the housing authorities will be faced with problems of providing appropriate and adequate facilities for them. The increasing need of frail seniors therefore needs to extend public housing as a large federal program offering housing assistance to low-income elders (US Nat’l Center for Assisted Living, 2001).
Several case studies embarked on the successful developments planned by housing authorities to address the needs of their rapidly aging populations. Efforts were offered as a supportive mechanism for housing authorities to adopt new approaches in order to meet the needs of their elderly tenants (Pifer and Bronte: 1986).
Some program of development were even dismissed and simply declared as ill-equipped to meet the residential and supportive service needs of their increasingly frail and diverse residents (Pifer and Bronte: 1986). Without such acceptable services, the government is faced with an alternative of moving senior citizens into costly, isolated institutions (Schwartz, 2000).
This remedy though was seen as giving a devastating effect that might develop into unnecessary institutionalization of elderly persons which was later considered far more costly than those offered in other settings.
Public housing authorities across the country were then trying to find innovative ways to serve these tenants and are building partnerships with nonprofit organizations and with the state and local service providers.
They tried finding new ways to raise capital for modernization and development, creating models that can guide other housing authorities grappling with similar situations (Schwartz, D.C. (2000).
In answer, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in collaboration with the Department of Aging and the Department of Public Welfare under PA Bill 1935 aimed to provide appropriate housing and care needed by frail elderly and other benefits of enhanced senior services (HB 1935).
The development of HB 1935
Existing programs in the face of huge budget cuts have recognized the need to meet the shelter and service needs of the growing elderly population. This growing population is consisting of adult individuals well into the eighties and nineties who need a physically supportive environment that will sustain their needs.
The government is suddenly faced with the pressing need to bring services to the existing developments that can no longer provide nor suit their frail physical condition.
Faced with looming budget problems, several programs were stalled that ultimately empower the federal government to reassess the needs of the elderly individuals by fielding service coordinators to the assisted housing complexes across the country.
Assumptions made by government authorities endorsed the idea that senior citizens who are growing frail will have to move to a different housing continuum as a housing option. Basically as older couples are sooner separated by illness or death, older individuals are also asked to transfer to single family homes, apartments, congregate living, assisted living and board and care homes (Brenton, 1983).
Equally though, frail people are moved into nursing homes that vary according to their availability and affordability. Under this notion, housing options are differentiated by the types of services generally offered which includes the supportiveness of the setting in terms of accessibility features and design and competence of the persons to whom the housing is targeted (Holshouser, 1988).
The response gathered by service coordinators however created a differing view which recognized the fact that frail, older persons do not necessarily have to move from one setting to another if they need assistance which has often resulted to health problems for them(US,APA:2002);(US-HR:1981).
Studies were soon allowed to create a feasibility haven for dependent or dependent older persons who can live in a variety of settings, including their own homes and apartments, if the physical environment is made more supportive, caregivers are available to provide assistance and affordable services are accessible (Haber and Gratton, 1993).