Never Too Late - January/February 2024


By Maddy Bynes, Special to Never Too Late

great strides have been taken to improve the funding into this program, the rising population, the fall out from COVID-19, and a shortage in direct care workers have all exacerbated our long-term funding problems. Area Agencies on Aging statewide are so grateful to have received $10 million in one-time funding during the last legislative session. These funds were appropriated to Area Agencies on Aging for two purposes. $5 million was appropriated to pilot a housing program to support older adults at risk of homelessness, enabling them to stay in their own homes and communities safely. The other $5 million was appropriated to Area Agencies on Aging more broadly to address the direct care workforce shortage and reduce waiting lists. Without help from the legislature, both of these will expire at the end of the state fiscal year on July 1, 2024. In Pima County, we received $1.5 million between these two programs accounting for approximately 16 percent of the funding in the state. Our expert staff have worked diligently to expand our service delivery - reducing waiting lists and increasing the impact of all of our funding. We are concerned that if the state legislature does not extend these funds into the coming fiscal year, we will be unable to continue our progress and potentially have to reduce the number of hours or number of people receiving services. We need your help! Over the past several years, your voice has been critical to our effective advocacy efforts. When legislators understand what taxpayers value, they are better able to make

This January marks the beginning of the legislative session for 2024. Over the course of the next few months, your elected officials will be working together to solve some of Arizona’s most pressing needs, including addressing Arizona’s dwindling water supply, managing the homelessness crisis, and most critically, continuing work on improving Arizona’s long-term care continuum of services. As always, one of the main focuses of the legislative session will be the Arizona State Budget, which funds all state of Arizona and many local programs - including the Area Agencies on Aging. Over the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to have a surplus in the Arizona State Budget. These surplus funds have been used to create increases to programming, not just for older adults, but all across the state - including in education, water resources, and our criminal justice system. Now, with state general fund revenues being lower than they have historically, legislators will have to make more difficult decisions on how to spend our taxpayer dollars. With that in mind, it is critical that we keep our voices loud and tell our legislators how important funding home and community-based services are for older adults. Over the past several years, with your dedication and hard work, we’ve been able to secure both on-going and one-time funding for our home and community-based services system. These services continue to be in high demand with a statewide waiting list for service hovering around 1,499 people and our local waiting list at 321 people. Though

decisions that reflect those needs. Your voice will help to elevate these issues, in what is bound to be a difficult legislative session with many priorities. Please visit TODAY to write to your legislators about the importance of funding for home and community-based services through the Area Agencies on Aging this year. Why Your Voice Matters Your voice isn’t just a sound; it’s a catalyst for change. In the realm of politics and legislation, it's easy to feel insignificant, but each voice holds immense power. Your beliefs, opinions, and convictions shape the world around you. They fuel movements, spark discussions, and drive progress. When you speak up for what you believe in, you contribute to a chorus of diverse perspectives that lawmakers listen to. Change doesn't happen in silence; it thrives in the collective voice of individuals who refuse to be silenced. Your voice matters because it's the heartbeat of democracy, the cornerstone of advocacy, and the force that shapes a better tomorrow for all.

January/February 2024, Never Too Late | Page 31

Pima Council on Aging

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