ATLANTA — Advocates for the elderly Monday applauded a Valdosta lawmaker’s push for creation of a Georgia House of Representatives study committee on affordable housing options for seniors.
The committee stems from House Resolution 533, which was put in the House hopper last week by state Rep. John LaHood, a Republican from Valdosta.
“Rep. John LaHood’s resolution addresses a big worry,” Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chairwoman of the Georgia Council on Aging, said. “Currently, there’s not enough affordable housing for our seniors. But what’s going to happen in the not-too-distant future, when Georgia’s 65-and-older population is expected to double?”
The resolution from LaHood, the secretary of the House Health and Human Services Committee, calls for the creation of the House Study Committee on Innovative Financial Options for Senior Living. The committee would comprise five House members selected by Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and have until December to complete its work.
LaHood’s resolution states that the problem is a lack of affordable independent living options for seniors who require services and can no longer live in their homes.
HR 533 cites a 2018 national survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute indicating that only 16 percent of current retirees are “very confident” they will have enough money to pay for long-term care. It also points out that seniors who cannot qualify for affordable housing and services often wind up in nursing homes, with some of those higher costs passed on to taxpayers.
“Most Georgia seniors do not want to spend their final days in a nursing home,” Johnson said. “I know they greatly appreciate this effort by Rep. LaHood and the House to explore — and, hopefully find — more options for them.”
Johnson said she hopes to testify “about this critical situation” when the resolution goes before committee in the House.
Georgia’s 65-and-over population was 1.3 million in 2016 and is expected to rise to 2.9 million by 2040, with the greatest rate of growth in the 85-and-older category, LaHood’s resolution said.
The resolution is available at http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/HR/533.