Congressman Capuano Introduces The LEGACY Act to Provide Affordable Housing Opportunities for Grandparents Raising their Grandchildren

March 20, 2002 - Congressman Michael E. Capuano today introduced the LEGACY Act: Living Equitably, Grandparents Aiding Children and Youth. This legislation will help address the growing need for affordable housing for grandparents raising their grandchildren.

"Grandparents on fixed incomes across the nation are taking on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. They are not only concerned with the rising costs of prescription drugs, but with the cost of diapers, baby formula and school clothes. The LEGACY Act will help provide new affordable housing opportunities for these unique families," said Rep. Capuano.

There is currently only one housing development in the entire country specifically designed for intergenerational families -- the Grandfamilies House in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The House offers apartments with special features for both grandparents and children, including childproof kitchen cabinets and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. There are also activities for seniors and children, an outdoor playground and an on-site computer lab.

The LEGACY Act will build on the Grandfamilies House model and help organizations across the country build similar housing developments. There are four key components to the legislation. First, it would create national demonstration projects under existing HUD programs specifically to develop housing for grandparents and their grandchildren. As well, the Act would make it easier for grandfamilies to receive family unification assistance. In addition, it would allow access to fair housing funds for education and outreach efforts about the legal issues surrounding these families. Lastly, the Act will provide HUD personnel with specialized training in working with grandfamilies.

Congressman Capuano was joined by Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-MD) in introducing the LEGACY Act.

"The LEGACY Act goes beyond the obvious benefits of having loving grandparents raise their grandchildren. The Act assists these grandfamilies by training HUD employees about this population's unique needs and providing flexible demonstration opportunities that can adapt to the unique needs of each community," said Rep. Morella.

Congressman Capuano and Congresswoman Morella have worked with Generations United, Inc., an organization that advocates on behalf of intergenerational families. The title of the legislation was inspired by an Academy-Award nominated documentary film chronicling the life of a grandmother raising her grandchildren and their struggle to move out of a Chicago housing project. Generations United has been working with the family portrayed in "Legacy" to highlight the many challenges facing grandparents raising grandchildren.

"We applaud Representatives Capuano and Morella for their tremendous leadership in support of these families," said Donna Butts, Executive Director for Generations United. "Grandparents do not plan to raise a second family. Their homes are seldom large enough for children. However, the reality is that it happens, and grandparents and other relatives raising children save taxpayers a minimum of $4.5 billion a year and provide a safety net for children who would otherwise end up in the foster care system."

According to recent data from the Census Bureau, the number of intergenerational families increased more than fifty percent between 1990 and 1998. It is estimated that more than 4 million children across America are now being raised by their grandparents.

"The LEGACY Act is a small step in providing a safe, affordable place to live for these courageous grandparents as they raise the next generation of Americans," said Rep. Capuano.