Provisions of H.R. 4033 and S. 2592
Demonstration Programs Based on GrandFamilies House
- Section 202 - The LEGACY bill calls for demonstration programs based on the successful GrandFamilies House in Boston, Massachusetts. Rather than a stand-alone structure, however, the new legislation proposes to attach a small separate building to an existing or new Section 202 development. This building would include units for families, giving preference to grandparent-headed families. The "grandfamily annex" would allow grandparents to use the senior services they may need, while, at the same time, it would create a family-friendly environment for the children. Outdoor play space could be provided away from the senior-only units. This set-up might also make it more attractive for grandchildren of residents in the senior-only portion to visit their grandparents.
- Section 8 - The LEGACY bill calls for a national Section 8 demonstration program directed toward the housing and service needs of grandparent-headed households. This program could also be modeled on GrandFamilies House. Housing and social service counseling should be a major component of this program since the needs of this population are unique.
Education & Training on Housing Needs of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD) training - HUD has funds to provide training related to public and assisted housing issues. The LEGACY bill calls for HUD to direct its own personnel, who work in a wide variety of program areas, to receive training on the special circumstances surrounding grandparents raising grandchildren in subsidized housing. Many HUD regional offices incorrectly believe that grandparents are required to have legal custody of children to qualify as a "family" for Section 8 housing. Since legal custody is not required, clarification of this issue should be one of the highlights of the training.
- Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) - FHIP is designed to promote fair housing laws and equal housing opportunity awareness. The FHIP Education and Outreach Initiative funds nonprofit organizations to "explain to the general public and key housing market actors what equal opportunity in housing means and what it requires of them in the sale, rental, and financing of housing." FHIP activities can be national, regional, local, or community-based. The LEGACY bill calls for this program to include education and outreach to inform grandparent and other relatives raising children about affordable housing opportunities and services. Clarification of the custody issue, that grandparents are not required to have legal custody of children to qualify as a "family" for Section 8 housing, would be included.
The LEGACY bill calls for HUD to work with Census sampling to do a national study of the housing needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. The study will be followed with a report that makes recommendations about how HUD's major assisted housing programs can be used or, if appropriate, amended or altered to meet the affordable housing needs of grandparent and other relative-headed households
Family Unification Program
The LEGACY bill clarifies that grandparent-headed households at risk of losing custody of their grandchildren because of their housing situation should be included in the Family Reunification Program. Grandparents raising grandchildren should be treated as families, not "interim families." By allowing grandparents to use these vouchers, the program would continue to meet its goal of preventing children from entering foster care due to the housing conditions of a family member.
Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity (ECHO)
A Boston study revealed that some grandparent-headed households live in single-family homes, and others aspire to be homeowners. An adaptation of the HOME program's ECHO housing program might be a way to allow grandparents in single-family homes to stay in homes that would otherwise be too small due to the arrival of their grandchildren. As the ECHO program is currently configured, HOME funds can be used for the initial purchase and placement costs of ECHO units. These units must be small, free standing, and barrier free. The purpose of the program is to allow older persons to live near their relatives. The LEGACY bill calls for an adaptation of this program to allow for the addition of bedrooms for grandchildren.