A Congressman from Florida has introduced legislation to create a tax credit for people aged 60 and above who spend at least $30,000 to remodel their homes so that they can age in place happily.
H.R. 5254, the Senior Accessible Housing Act, was filed May 16 by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, and John Conyers, D-Mich., also signed on from the start. That makes the measure bipartisan, but so far Poliquin is the only Republican in the GOP-controlled House to co-sponsor the bill.
The nonrefundable personal tax credit that would be established by the bill can be used for such work as installing entrance and exit ramps, widening doorways, installing handrails or grab bars, and putting in non-slip flooring.
"As I travel the state of Florida, I often hear of the struggles seniors face being able to age independently and in their own homes," Murphy said June 21 in a statement issued by his Congressional office. "With the cost of home modifications a major hurdle, this bill would help seniors better afford the fixes necessary to age in place, where many would rather be, and live with dignity and independence."
Word about the bill's filing spread in part though the advocacy of Louis Tenenbaum, a Washington-based proponent for programs that help senior homeowners live in accessible housing. In a recent email, Tenenbaum called the measure "groundbreaking" because it applies to the Middle Class of Americans, rather than the extremely poor, who often lack the resources to support aging in place.
"This is groundbreaking because it is focused on the heart of the problem," Tenenbaum wrote. Most aging and caregiving will occur in owner-occupied single family homes where most older Americans want to live when they need care. These homes need to be renewed. You are right if you are thinking this doesn’t seem like it should be so hard to grasp or propose on a large scale…but it has been … until NOW."
For all that enthusiasm, the bill's future at least for this legislative session is bleak. Congress won't be meeting in much of the second half of the year because of the election campaign. In addition, any measure with a hope of passing the House must enjoy strong support from the Republican Party, so this bill would need many more GOP co-sponsors.