Program helps seniors stay at home

Alan Bates

Sen. Alan Bates

For decades, the Disabled and Senior Property Tax Deferral Program has protected low income senior citizens from being taxed out of their homes by allowing them to defer their annual property taxes. Property taxes are collected once the home is sold, and the program has been both financially solvent and successful for years at keeping seniors in their homes.

As the economy worsened in recent years, however, enrollment in the program increased and housing values declined. Last session, seeing the difficulty keeping this program afloat, the Oregon Legislature passed an enrollment cap and stricter eligibility rules. While these decisions kept us from losing this program altogether, the unfortunate consequence of these caps and new rules was that some seniors were disqualified from the program.

A bill was passed in the Oregon Senate this week that would reinstate seniors to the program who were disqualified because they had reverse mortgages. With so many Oregonians struggling due to the economic downturn, HB 2489A is an important piece of legislation that allows more seniors to live out the last years of their lives in a secure home. In fact, it’s expected to allow 1,400 senior citizens and disabled Oregonians to re-enter the tax deferment program.

The bottom line is this: Our community is a better place when seniors can stay in their homes without the fear and financial burden of property taxes. I was proud to vote “yes” this week to help keep Oregon seniors in their homes.

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