FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2010
Contact: AARP Media Relations, email@example.com, 202-434-2560
AARP Letter Urges Key Senate Committee to Pass “Livable Communities Act”
“We can’t continue to apply 1950’s answers to 21st Century challenges.”
WASHINGTON— AARP Senior Vice President David Sloane sent a letter late yesterday to members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs urging them to pass the “Livable Communities Act” and send the legislation to a vote before the full Senate.
“Too many communities are struggling to grasp the impact of our country’s collective aging population on the fundamental issues of where and how we all live,” said Sloane. “We can’t continue to apply 1950’s answers to 21st Century challenges. The ‘Livable Communities Act’ would be a critically important resource to leaders who want to make sure that Americans can safely stay in their homes and get to the places they need and want to go in their communities.”
AARP’s letter to the Senate Banking Committee is below:
On behalf of AARP, I am writing to urge you to support the Livable Communities Act when it is considered by the Banking Committee tomorrow. This important legislation will coordinate federal housing and transportation policies and investments in a targeted manner to promote sustainable development and economic competitiveness, preserve the environment, support public health and improve the quality of life in our nation’s communities.
The rapid aging of our nation’s population presents significant challenges for communities across the country. AARP surveys have found that older persons prefer to continue living in their homes and communities as they age. However, roughly 80 percent of individuals age 50 and over live in suburban or rural areas, where it is frequently difficult to obtain the services they need and stay engaged in their home towns. These places typically were not designed to accommodate persons whose homes are unsuitable, who live far from shops and services, and who cannot drive themselves. Notably, the 2009 National Household Travel Survey identified 7.6 million Americans age 65 and above who do not drive, fully one-fifth of this age group. In rural areas, the inability to drive easily leads to social isolation and, if left unmediated, to nursing home placement. Similarly, older people in suburbs and cities often lack access to services, appropriate and affordable housing, convenient public transportation, and to family and friends.
Regrettably, insufficient planning is taking place to prepare for the dynamic growth in the number of older adults. And well-intentioned federal housing and transportation policies have worked at cross purposes by failing to recognize the barriers each may create for the other. This lack of planning and coordination is illustrated by a 2008 AARP survey in which nearly two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers said they had not yet begun to consider the needs of older adults in their multimodal planning.
The Livable Communities Act would help communities develop comprehensive regional plans that incorporate transportation, housing, community and economic development, and environmental needs by instituting competitive planning grants. To further these plans, a competitive grant program would enable communities to implement cross-cutting projects according to their comprehensive regional plans. These projects will help communities create and preserve affordable housing and multimodal transportation projects near housing. In addition, through the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, localities will receive cutting edge technical assistance and targeted best practices guidance so that they may address local needs with local solutions.
We appreciate your consideration of this important legislation and urge you to support the Livable Communities Act in committee. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, or have your staff contact Debra Alvarez of our Government Relations staff at (202) 434-3800.
David P. Sloane
Senior Vice President
Government Relations and Advocacy
For more information, please visit www.aarp.org.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA su Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.