Grandparents and other Relatives Raising Children: Housing Needs and Challenges
According to the U.S. Census 2000, about six million children across the country are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives.1 More than 2.4 million of these grandparents have the primary responsibility for meeting the basic needs of these children.2 Factors such as parental substance abuse, incarceration, HIV/AIDS, death, poverty, and even military deployments are causing growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives to step forward to keep families together. Grandparent-and other relative-headed families face multiple barriers, which include poor access to physical and mental health care as well as difficulty enrolling children in school and securing legal assistance.
Finding safe and affordable housing is also a significant challenge for these families. Many families live in small units in buildings with occupancy standards that limit the number of occupants allowed in their unit. Others live in housing designated for older adults and those with disabilities and fear that the addition of children will lead to eviction. While government subsidized elderly housing does not legally exclude children, there is a widespread belief among housing professionals that children are not allowed. Private housing landlords may also attempt to evict tenants when a family’s composition changes, despite the fact that eviction on this basis is illegal. Furthermore, in many localities, housing officials tell caregivers they are required to have legal custody of the children to qualify for housing assistance even though the law does not require it.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)3 was created in 2000 as part of the Older Americans Act (OAA). Administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the NFCSP allows for all states, working in partnership with Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and local community-service providers, to offer five categories of support services for grandparents and other relatives aged 60 and older who are relative caregivers of children, and family caregivers of individuals aged 60 and older.4 One of the categories of supportive services provided under the NFCSP is disseminating information to caregivers about available services. This fact sheet provides information about a specific type of housing program for grandparents and other relatives raising children, as limited availability of adequate affordable housing is one of the primary difficulties these caregivers face.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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