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and at the same time it would authorize home repair and maintenance jobs as a means for increasing employment opportunities for older Americans.
The bill-an amendment to Title III of the Older Americans Act-would authorize $25 million over a two-year period for a national system of home repair model projects. The Commissioner of Aging would make grants to State units on Aging for up to five projects in each qualifying state, repairing or renovating at least 10,000 substandard homes across the nation.
This is admittedly a very small scale effort. The program I propose is designed to give each state valuable experience in administering home repair projects and to assist some of the neediest older homeowners. The Nutrition for the Elderly program was begun on a similarly limited basis: at its inception it served about 3,200 meals a day and is now serving 220,000 daily. Hopefully after two years the home repair program might be well-established and allowed to expand in the same way the nutrition program did.
I would mention that results I have received from several home repair projects indicate that the 10,000 figure could be stretched much further in communities desiring to coordinate the repair projects with local resources such as Community Action Agencies, Community Development funds, Departments of Welfare and other existing programs.
An excellent example of this is the State of West Virginia which has supported home repair projects using various federal, state, and local funding. At the end of this statement I will insert a recent letter from Dr. Louis Gerrard, Director of the West Virginia Commission on Aging, detailing these projects, along with correspondence from several other states with home repair experience. Today older homeowners comprise about 70 percent of the older population. Upon retirement, when many older Americans face substantial cuts in income, the high costs of repair and maintenance can easily overwhelm the older homeowner. The costs of home maintenance and repair are outdistancing even the skyrocketing rate of inflation: over the last 5 years, home repair costs rose 53.9% compared to inflation's $38.3% rise-a 15.5% difference.
Unfortunately, federal grant and loan programs are not meeting the needs of older homeowners who wish to remain in their homes. Not one national program repair grants is now in progress, and a rural home repair grant program (Section 504, authorized through the Farmers' Home Administration), which could be of great assistance to the rural low-income elderly, has been stymied for over a decade because available funds have been deleted from appropriations legislation.
Loan programs give little addition assistance. Living on a fixed or shrinking income, the low-income elderly cannot realistically be expected to apply for conventional loans. There are no low-interest loan programs aimed to meet the special housing and economic needs of the elderly. The older homeowner is caught in a dilemma: he-and more often she cannot afford to improve his property, but can ill-afford to live in it without repair.
The proposal I am offering today would provide a way out of this dilemma. This new program would supply materials for the repair project as well as labor for repairs involving insulation, carpentry, masonry, roofing, plumbing, and electrical work. To the extent that it would cover the supply of materials, the program's coverage is broader than the one I introduced last year. The addition of materials was a result of comments received from many older persons who indicated that their financial resources were so restricted that, unless materials were included, they could not use this program.
Assistance in insulation-or retrofitting-can also save older people substantial amounts on their winter heating bills. And I would emphasize the importance of the Administration's plan for a $55 million retrofitting project in FY 1976 for the poor and elderly poor, to be administered through the Federal Energy Administration. My proposed program will, if enacted, necessarily reach a limited number of people at its inception. However, in conjunction with the FEA project, substantial energy conservation services could be delivered to the low-income older population until the Older Americans Home Repair Program is expanded. The bill I introduce today also recognizes the growing unemployment of older workers, and encourages their employment when not in conflict with state and local building codes. Currently 600,000 older workers age 55 and over are unemployed, and countless more—although not officially listed as unemployed-have been squeezed out of the job market because of their age. The creation of this home repair program would be an important step in furthering the opportunities of older workers to pursue continued or second careers on a part time basis as a meaningful alternative to unemployment.
In a recent letter to me, Ms. Maud H. Burns, Coordinator of a home repair project operated by the Augusta, Maine, Area Agency on Aging pointed out another aspect of the program: the economic sense that the home repair concept makes:
The home repair service which you are proposing can result in lifting a substantial part of the tax burden from the shoulders of the American public. A small repair service to an elderly citizen's home can make the difference between that person being able to remain in his home or his having to be placed in an institution. I feel sure that when our tax weary public is made aware of the great savings to it in dollars, between a small repair service and expensive institutionalization, it will be glad to support your bill. Ms. Burns' letter will be inserted in whole at the end of my statement.
The Older Americans Home Repair Assistance Act can be a logical complement to existing in-home services-including the Meals on Wheels and home health programs which are designed to defer the forces of institutionalization. These programs are predicated on the assumption that the people they serve have a safe, decent home to live in. The bill I'm introducing today would help to assure that they do.
Mr. Speaker, at his point in the record, I insert the text of this bill along with the above-mentioned letters and other supporting data.
[H.R. 4251, 94th Cong., 1st sess.]
A BILL To amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to establish a grant program for home repair and renovation projects for older Americans
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the "Older Americans Home Repair Assistance Act of 1975".
ESTABLISHMENT OF GRANT PROGRAM
SEC. 2. Title III of the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3021 et seq.) is amended by addition at the end thereof the following new parts:
"PART B-HOME REPAIR ASSISTANCE PROJECTS
"SEC. 321. For purposes of this part
"(1) the term 'eligible homeowner' means any individual who (A) receives assistance under title 16 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1381 et seq.); or (B) who is 60 years of age or older and whose income does not exceed the intermediate budget for a retired couple in urban areas of the United States, as determined by the Commissioner using the most recent data available; and "(2) the term 'older worker' means any individual 55 and over who (A) has a low income, as determined in accordance with criteria established by the Secretary of Commerce; and (B) the Commissioner considers to be in need of assistance to obtain satisfactory employment.
"AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS
"SEC. 322. (a) There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out the purposes of this part $12,500,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1976, and $12,500,000 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1977.
"(b) Sums appropriated under subsection (a) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1976, which are not obligated and expended before the close of such fiscal year shall remain available for obligation and expenditure during the period beginning July 1, 1976, and ending September 30, 1977.
"ALLOTMENTS TO STATES
"SEC. 323. (a) The Commissioner shall make funds available under this part to any State which submits a home repair project which is approved by the Commissioner under section 324, except that the Commissioner may not approve more than 5 such projects submitted by a particular State.
"(b) The Commissioner, in approving home repair projects under section 324, shall seek to ensure an equitable distribution of funds available under this part to urban and rural areas of the Nation.
"HOME REPAIR PROJECTS
"SEC. 324. (a) Any State which desires to receive funds under this part shall submit to the Commissioner a home repair project, in such detail as the Commissioner considers necessary, which—
"(1) provides for the making of repairs or renovations of the home of any eligible homeowner in a manner which the Commissioner determines to be appropriate;
"(2) includes the provision of supplies or labor for various work activities relating to such repairs or renovations, including, but not limited to, carpentry, painting, masonry, plumbing, roofing, electrical work, and insulation;
“(3) establishes procedures for granting preference to eligible homeowners who have the greatest need for such repairs or renovations, as determined by the officer administering the home repair project in accordance with criteria established by the Commissioner;
"(4) gives preference to older workers, to the extent such preference (A) is not inconsistent with any State or local law; and (B) does not displace other employees and does not impair any existing contract;
"(5) uses methods of recruitment and selection which ensure that older workers will have an opportunity to participate in such project;
"(6) provides for the payment of older workers at a rate of pay which is not less than the rate of pay prescribed by section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206 (a) (1)), or by any appropriate State law, whichever is greater; and
"(7) sets forth such policies and procedures as will provide satisfactory assurance that allotments paid to the State under this part will be expended to make grants in cash or in kind to any public or private nonprofit institution, organization, or agency, or any political subdivision of the State for the purpose of carrying out home repair projects under this part.
"(b) The Commissioner shall approve any home repair project submitted by a State which complies with the provisions of subsection (a).
"(c) Any nonprofit institution, organization, or agency, or any political subdivision of a State, desiring to receive a grant under subsection (a)(7) shall agree
"(1) if the workmen's compensation laws in the State involved do not apply to older workers employed by such institution, organization, agency, or subdivision, to furnish such older workers with a workmen's compensation program which provides benefits commensurate with benefits provided under such laws;
"(2) if there are no workmen's compensation laws in the State involved, to furnish older workers employed by such institution, organization, agency, or subdivision with a workmen's compensation program which meets criteria established by regulation by the Commissioner; and
"(3) to employ older workers for period which do not exceed―
"(A) 40 hours in any workweek; or
"(B) 1,300 hours in any calendar year.
"LIMITATION OF FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
"SEC. 325. (a) (1) Except as provided by paragraph (2), funds available under this part for any home repair project shall not exceed 90 percent of the cost of such project, including the cost of administering such project.
"(2) The Commissioner may make funds available in amounts which exceed 90 percent of the cost of the project involved if the Commissioner determines, in accordance with objective criteria established by rule by the Commissioner, that such additional funds are necessary to carry out the purposes of this part. "(b) Non-Federal contributions with respect to any project may be in cash or in kind, including plant, equipment, and services.
"(c) Payments by the Commissioner under this part may be made in advance or by way of reimbursement, and in such installments and under such conditions as the Commissioner considers necessary to carry out the purposes of this part.
"SEC. 326. (a) The Commissioner shall consult and cooperate with any appropriate Federal agency administering any program or activity similar to home repair projects approved by the Commissioner under this part. Such Federal agencies shall include the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the ACTION Agency, and Department of Labor.
"(b) Any Federal agency with which the Commissioner consults and cooperates under subsection (a) shall assist the Commissioner in the dissemination of information with respect to the availability of assistance under this part and with respect to promotion of the identification of individuals eligible for employment in home repair projects approved by the Commissioner under this part.
"PARTICIPANTS NOT FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
"SEC. 327. Any individual employed in any home repair project approved by the Commissioner under this part shall not be considered to be a Federal employee as a result of such employment, and shall not be subject to part III of title 5, United States Code.
"TREATMENT OF INCOME
"SEC. 328. Any income received by an older worker as a result of his employment in any home repair project approved by the Commissioner under this part shall not be considered as income or benefits for purposes of any Federal assistance program or activity.
"SEC. 329. (a) (1) The Commissioner shall prescribe rules which shall ensure that any home repair project approved by the Commissioner under this part has such internal administrative controls, accounting requirements, personnel standards, evaluation procedures, technical assistance programs, and other policies and procedures, as may be necessary for the effective use of funds made available to such project by the Commissioner under this part.
"(2) The Commissioner shall prescribe such other rules as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this part.
"(b) In carrying out his functions under this part, the Commissioner may use (with the consent of the head of the Federal agency involved) the services and facilities of any Federal agency, without reimbursement. The Commissioner also may use (with the consent of the State or the political subdivision of a State involved) the services and facilities of any agency of a State or of a political subdivision of a State, without reimbursement.
"SEC. 330. The Commissioner shall, not later than the close of December 31, 1976, transmit to the Secretary, the President, and the Congress, a report with respect to the administration of this part. Such report shall include a plan for the implementation of expanded home repair services and employment opportunities for older workers, together with recommendations for such legislative or other action as the Commissioner considers necessary or appropriate.
"PART C-TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS
"SEC. 331. (a) There is authorized to be appropriated $35,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1975, to carry out the purposes of this section. From sums appropriated under this section, the Commissioner is authorized to make grants to each State having a State plan approved under section 313 for the purpose of paying up to 75 per centum of the costs of meeting the transportation needs of older persons, with special emphasis on providing supportive transportation in connection with nutrition projects operated pursuant to title VII of this Act. Sums appropriated under this section shall be allotted to the States in accordance with the allotment formula contained in section 311.
"(b) The allotment to a State under this section shall remain available until December 31, 1975, for grants and contracts to area agencies on aging, organized under section 313(b), or to other public or nonprofit private agencies that the
State agency determines have the capacity to meet the transportation needs of older persons and to provide supportive transportation services in connection with nutrition projects operated under title VII. In making grants and contracts under this section, State agencies shall give priority to applicants proposing to serve areas in which there is no public transportation or in which existing public transportation is inadequate to meet the special needs of older persons. "(c) Within ninety days following the enactment of legislation appropriating funds as authorized by this section, the Commissioner shall issue final regulations for implementation of the program herein authorized.
"(d) The Commissioner is authorized and directed to request the technical assistance and cooperation of the Secretary of Transportation and such other departments and agencies of the Federal Government as may be appropriate for the proper and effective administration of this section.".
CONFORMING AND TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS
SEC. 3. (a) (1) Title III of the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3021 et seq.) is amended by inserting immediately above the heading for section 303 the following:
"PART A-PLANNING, SPECIAL SERVICE, AND OTHER PROGRAMS”
(2) Title III of such Act is amended by redesignating section 303 through section 308 as section 311 through section 316, respectively.
(b) (1) Section 311(a) of the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3023 (a)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended—
(A) by striking out “305” and inserting in lieu thereof "313";
(B) by striking out “307(a)" and inserting in lieu thereof “315(a)";
(C) by striking out "306" each place it appears therein and inserting in lieu thereof “314";
(D) by striking out "304 (a) (2) (A)” and inserting in lieu thereof "312 (a) (2) (A)"; and
(E) by striking out “304 (c)" and inserting in lieu thereof “312(c)".
(2) Section 312 (a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 3024 (a)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended
(A) by striking out “303" and inserting in lieu thereof "311";
(B) by striking out “306” and inserting in lieu thereof "314”; and
(3) Section 312 (c) (3) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 3024 (c) (3)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended by striking out “305(a) (7)" and inserting in lieu thereof “313 (a) (7)”.
(4) Section 313 (a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 3025(a)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended
(A) by striking out "303" and inserting in lieu thereof "311";
(B) by striking out “306" and inserting in lieu thereof "314";
(C) by striking out “307 (a)" and inserting in lieu thereof “315 (a)";
(D) by striking out "304 (a) (2) (A)" and inserting in lieu thereof "312 (a) (2) (A)";
(E) by striking out "304 (c)" and inserting in lieu thereof "312(c)"; and
(F) by striking out “304 (c) (3)" and inserting in lieu thereof "312(c) (3)”. (5) Section 313 (c) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 3025 (c)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended by striking out "304" and inserting in lieu thereof "312".
(6) Section 313 (d) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 3025(d)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended
(A) by striking out "304" each place it appears therein and inserting in lieu thereof "312";
(B) by striking out "303" each place it appears therein and inserting in lieu thereof "311"; and
(C) by striking out "306" each place it appears therein and inserting in lieu thereof "314".
(7) Section 314 (a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 3026 (a)), as so redesignated by subsection (a) (2), is amended
(A) by striking out "303" and inserting in lieu thereof "311";
(B) by striking out “303 (e) (1)” each place it appears therein and inserting in lieu thereof "311 (e) (1)"; and