Thank you for coming. Each year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides grants to help convert apartment buildings, known as multifamily housing, into assisted living for low-income elderly and Americans confronting disabilities.
Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department is awarding grants totaling $22.2 million through the Assisted Living Conversion Program. These grants will go to properties in seven states, including the States of New York and New Jersey. The funds will be used for the conversion of existing properties into assisted living situations.
These grants are an important contribution. Many Americans want to retain their independence and preserve their dignity. We must promote living situations that best meet the needs of our elderly citizens and people confronting disabilities. So, these grants are for the conversion and upgrade of apartments into more user-friendly assisted living. That means these grants will help provide continued independence, but with compassionate assistance, for eating, personal care, and home management.
Let me be clear. The grants are not for independent living services. Rather, they are for transforming the physical structure into a more accessible and helpful environment to provide the assisted living services. Put another way, we help convert an existing structure to make assisted living possible. Others provide the actual assisted living services.
Most Americans fear losing their independence. That is a fear that is magnified as we grow older, become frail, and experience new challenges in mobility and movement. As a society, we are all living longer, given changes in diet and advances in biomedicine. So this is a public policy issue that demands our attention. Many Americans need some help with everyday activities, but do not want or need strict supervision or a loss of their independence.
So, assisted living can be one answer. My department is committed to helping Americans retain their freedom, independence, and dignity. With these grants, the Department works with state and local governments, and private organizations, to make assisted living possible for our citizens in need.
One grantee is here in Syracuse: Bernardine Apartments. These apartments have been the site of a long-term program to convert this large apartment building into assisted living. I am pleased to announce a grant for almost $3.8 million to continue the conversion of this 206-unit, 24-story apartment complex to serve the frail elderly and people with disabilities.
I congratulate the owners of Bernardine Apartments for their successful grant application.
I also want to thank Congressman (Jim) Walsh for his commitment to this issue.
Specifically, this grant will help with the renovation of 35 existing elderly housing units on four of the floors of the complex. There will be extensive upgrades to make the apartments more user-friendly, including changes in the bathrooms and kitchens, as well as the closets and doors, to comply with accessibility requirements for people with disabilities. The grants will also be used to help create common areas on these floors, including two community lounges and an area for delivery of services.
The grants are awarded on a competitive basis. The owners of the facilities remain responsible for meeting all local standards and codes, and for the services they provide to residents.
Housing is more than a structure; it is providing a home for people to live and grow, and grow old. It is our personal space�the place where we live, relax, see our family, and surround ourselves with our possessions. Where we live is part of our lives, our soul, and our self-expression. As we face physical limitations, we need options that help preserve our way of life and our choices. Assisted living is a compassionate and appropriate option for many people. And I am proud that HUD is working to make that option a realistic possibility for older or disabled Americans.