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Gill Bills to Help Seniors ‘Age in Place’ Advance

Senator Nia Gill at the first meeting of the Senate Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation

Measures Would Improve Affordability, Livability of NJ Communities

TRENTON – Two bills sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill to improve affordability and livability within the community for aging adults were approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. The bills stem from a series of meetings the senator held with seniors in her legislative district.

“As a state, we have an obligation to ensure our residents are able to age in place and to maintain the high quality of life they deserve,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “To do that, we have to make sure that our communities are affordable for seniors and offer a safe environment that allows them to live healthy and active lifestyles. These bills would make important changes to our laws that would make it easier for seniors to remain in their communities as they age.”

Research has shown that older adults prefer to stay in their home and communities as they age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Age-friendly housing, transportation, social and employment opportunities are vital to promoting and supporting the well-being of aging residents, the agency reports.

The first bill focuses on helping to ease the property tax burden for seniors and increase opportunities for volunteerism. The bill (S2524) would allow municipalities to create a program permitting residents age 60 or older to perform volunteer services for the municipality in which they live in return for property tax vouchers. The “Municipal Volunteer Property Tax Reduction Act” is modeled after a program in Lenox, Mass., and would allow seniors to receive vouchers for up to $1,000 of their property tax burden in the year the volunteer work is conducted.

The second bill aims to improve transportation for seniors within the community.  The legislation (S2523) would permit towns, cities and parking authorities to create a parking program to offer reduced cost and designated parking to seniors. Under a Senior Citizen Priority Parking Program authorized by a municipality or parking authority, seniors could receive reduced rate parking permits and program-restricted parking spaces.

 “Older adults have a desire to remain in their communities where they can continue to live independent and active lives and enjoy the diverse attractions and amenities that New Jersey towns and cities offer,” said Ann Lippel, chair of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. “Senator Gill has spearheaded efforts to create support systems for those who wish to age in their communities and we thank her for her work.  We look forward to New Jersey taking a leadership position in advancing important initiatives which will enrich the quality of life for seniors in our state.”

“These bills seek to improve the ability of seniors to continue to live for many years in their communities,” said Senator Gill. “I thank the members of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee for their input on the various challenges they are facing, which led to the development of these bills. I look forward to continuing our work together to move the legislation forward.”

The bills were both approved by a vote of 5-0. They next go to the full Senate for a vote.

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