Participants in a White House "mini-conference" on housing for the elderly held here this week said they plan to press for investment by pension funds in that kind of housing and for increased use of tax-exempt financing to stimulate construction.
They also urged development of ways to help older homeowners convert their home equity into income without having to move.
"To meet the diversity of elderly income needs, these mechanisms should include property tax postponement, deferred payment loans for major home repairs, sale-leaseback arrangements and reverse annuity mortgages," the conferees said.
In addition, the group called for strong government policies against displacement of the elderly by condominium, cooperative or hotel conversions of apartment houses, or by speculators.
In a set of recommendations that will be refined for next year's White House Conference on Aging, the group of more than 200 representatives of community organizations and retired persons urged elimination of some restrictions on investment by pension funds in mortgages.
They also asked for interest subsidies and tax incentives for builders of such housing and the creation of a federal "revolving trust fund for elderly housing production." More than 30 percent of all assisted housing is occupied by a person or head of a household 65 or older, government statistics show.
The National Council of Senior Citizens, a large nonprofit developer of federally funded housing for the elderly, was a sponsor of the three-day conference along with 20 other organizations. Housing will be one of nine policy areas explored by the conference next year as part of its goal to reach a national policy on aging.
A similar conference in 1971 recommended the minimum production of 120,000 of units for the elderly each year -- this year's conference recommended 600,000 annually -- along with property tax relief and maintenance assistance for older homeowners.
This week's recommendation also included:
A rollback of property taxes for the elderly, with a "recapture" provision when the property is sold.
The acceptance by municipalities of work by the elderly in exchange for property tax credit.
Increased use of loans and grants to the elderly to help them weatherize their homes to conserve energy.
Sliding-scale grants to help the elderly make major repairs to their houses.
Government funding of "shared housing," such as co-ops and condominiums, with emphasis on use of existing dwellings.
Chester Hartman, speaking for the Legal Services Anti-Displacement Project, a national law project, said displacement of elderly and low-income city residents is "clearly a national problem," one that affects 2.5 million Americans each year.
He and Cushing Dolbeare, president of the Washington-based National Low-Income Housing Coalition, took issue with Housing and Urban Development Department official Lawrence Simons for his remark to the conference that rent control and "restraints on conversion" have hampered the production of rental housing.