TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, which would establish a program to assist seniors with low to moderate income afford needed repairs to their homes, was approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“With property taxes on the rise, too many elderly homeowners are forced to make difficult decisions on how to spend their dollars,” said Senator Rice, Chairman of the Committee. “Our seniors need to pay more for their property taxes and prescription drugs. This problem is leaving many seniors with only a few dollars to buy food, let alone afford necessary home improvements and repairs.”
The bill, S-2381, would create the “Senior Citizen Home Repair and Modification Program” to supply financial assistance for needed repairs to homeowners who are at least 65 year old. The bill would also help seniors locate and hire qualified contractors.
“The home repair program for seniors will help our older residents fix the overdue problems in their homes, and will help revitalize neighborhoods,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “It’s the old saying, ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’ Our seniors are not always able to make minor repairs that can escalate into major safety code violations over time, and put homeowners in danger.”
Senator Rice noted that the bill would offer grants of up to $5,000 and low-interest loans of up to $15,000 to eligible seniors. The bill would also offer a tax credit of up to $5,000 to contractors who perform the needed work free of charge. According to Senator Rice, the State would need to appropriate about $10 million from the General Fund to the Department of Community Affairs to initially finance the program.
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee before moving to the full Senate for consideration.