December 12, 2019
Reps. Pressley, McGovern Introduce Legislation to Assist Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Vice Chair of the House Task Force on Aging and Families, and Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02) introduced H.R.5406 The Grandfamily Housing Act – a bill that would provide additional resources for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Currently, there are over 2.6 million children being raised by their grandparents, and that number is only expected to grow. On average, less than one-third of eligible grandfamilies receive housing assistance.
The Grandfamily Housing Act would create a new, nationwide pilot program to provide funding to help grandparents raising their grandchildren access safe, affordable and appropriate housing.
“Many families have been destabilized by poverty, violence, and other life tragedies,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Grandparents raising grandchildren are the ultimate stabilizers, caring for children who often require extra love and support after experiencing trauma. But all too often, our society fails to recognize the contributions of these caregivers or provide them with the support and resources they need. As Vice Chair of the House Task Force on Aging and Families and an advocate for aging Americans, I am proud to introduce the Grandfamily Housing Act which, will ensure that grandfamilies have a safe, affordable, and age-appropriate place to call home. The Grandfamily Housing Act is an important piece of legislation that will uplift our grandfamilies and affirm their right to thrive in community.”
“This is a huge issue that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention, and we’re trying to change that,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “Grandparents are stepping up across Massachusetts to help raise their grandchildren, but the bottom line is that the resources that are available to parents just aren’t there for grandparents. We’ve heard from many grandparents that finding age-appropriate affordable housing is a major obstacle, so our bill establishes a new nationwide pilot program to modify and build appropriate housing and fund residential coordinators to help grandparents navigate the complexities of raising a grandchild.”
Last week, Pressley and McGovern held a roundtable in Worcester, MA where they heard directly from grandparents about the specific challenges they face when raising a grandchild. Frequently, grandparents are financially unprepared to care for a grandchild and they often have difficulty accessing school or medical records of their grandchildren. Additionally, grandparent-led households regularly lack adequate and age-appropriate housing. The Grandfamily Housing Act builds on many of the concerns they heard at the roundtable.
The Grandfamily Housing Act is endorsed by three major national advocacy groups that support grandparents raising grandchildren: The National Council on Aging, Generations United, and LeadingAge.
“Grandfamily caregivers grapple with unique and pressing issues that this bill would address by providing greatly needed support including funds for staffing, services, facilities, community outreach and other services. Thanks to the leadership of Congressman McGovern and Congresswoman Pressley, grandparents and other older relatives caring full-time for a relative child will get some welcome relief,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan. “LeadingAge’s 6,000 mission-driven member organizations are always ready to do more to help this community and believe this bill takes a big step forward in achieving that goal.”
“The National Council on Aging commends Representative McGovern for his grandfamily housing bill that acknowledges the urgent need to support older Americans who are struggling as caregivers for their grandchildren,” said National Council on Aging President and CEO Jim Firman. “The comprehensive array of services this legislation provides is vitally important for a vulnerable segment of the older adult population that continues to grow year after year.”
“Grandfamilies face unique housing challenges. These families frequently come together at a moment’s notice, often with a call in the middle of the night. Children may be prohibited from their caregiver’s existing housing or it may not be adequate,” according to Ana Beltran, Special Advisor to Generations United’s National Center on Grandfamilies. “This legislation is a critical step in providing more grandfamilies with affordable housing opportunities that include vital supportive services for the caregivers and children.”
To view a summary of the bill, click here.
To view the bill text, click here.
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