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May 12, 2008

Congresswoman Velázquez Announces New Home Healthcare Initiative Serving Elderly Residents in City’s Public Housing

-- Residents Would Receive Training to Aid Elderly Neighbors --

NEW YORK, N.Y. — There are more than 130,000 elderly New Yorkers living in public housing, and the number is expected to rise as the population ages. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez today unveiled legislation expanding access to home healthcare options for senior and disabled tenants. Her bill creates training and employment opportunities for thousands of public housing residents, and gives them the tools they need to care for their neighbors.

“Today, a growing number of New Yorkers are entering their golden years. Many will require healthcare assistance to live a full and productive life,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “In my district alone, there are thousands of seniors living in public housing and the need for caring, competent home healthcare aides is increasing rapidly.”

The “Home Health Services Job Training and Caregiving Act of 2008” creates a three-year federal pilot training program specializing in health care services. It also provides $2.5 million per year in funding. The initiative would be part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and allow public housing residents to receive training from organizations certified by the state. The newly trained aides would be matched with elderly or disabled public housing residents who are Medicaid-eligible.

“The longstanding tradition of neighbor-helping-neighbor is part of what makes New York City unique. When we train local residents to fill a gap in our healthcare system, not only do they learn a valuable trade but they also become a valuable resource to the community,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.

In large cities like New York, more than one third of public housing households are headed by an elderly person. The cost of providing home care for these seniors is less than half what it costs to provide them with nursing home assistance. It also allows them to remain in a comfortable, non-institutionalized setting.

“As long as our parents and grandparents can safely stay in their own homes, we must create opportunities for them to receive the care needed to do so. This legislation will help keep families together and strengthen the bonds between neighbors,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.

The Congresswoman announced the new initiative at a Lower East Side residential development for seniors. She was joined by Dennis Rivera, Chairman of SEIU Healthcare; Aida Garcia, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU Homecare Division; Earl Andrews, Vice-Chairman, New York City Housing Authority; as well as representatives from the American Association of Home Services for the Aging (AAHSA), Lutheran Family Health Centers and Public Housing Residents of the Lower East Side (PHROLES).