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Game Changer! HR-5254 Senior Accessible Housing Act

by Louis on June 20, 2016

It is easy to get behind bold vision and imagination. That is why I support Representative Patrick Murphy (D-Fl-18) who introduced HR 5254 The Senior Accessible Housing Act on May 16, 2016. This gamechanging bill provides a $30,000 tax credit for home modifications. Also deserving a shout out are original co-sponsors, Representatives Bruce Poliquin (R-Me-2) and John Conyers (D-Mi-13).* As far as I know, this is the first Federal bill to incentivize older citizens to prepare their homes for Aging in Place.**

What makes this groundbreaking?

  1. Most policy and programs for senior citizens focus, deservedly, on those with few resources. HR 5254 applies to folks who have the money to get the work done. The HUGE middle class.
  2. This credit applies to individual tax payers. Most policy for housing older citizens is for multi-family/affordable housing.***
  3. This program is specifically designed for upgrades to existing homes – remodeling/retrofits – rather than new homes

So…..this is groundbreaking because it is focused on the heart of the problem. 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.

Congressman Murphy’s interest in this topic came from AARP magazine. He tore out the article and did the work to get this bill introduced. That sounds like unusual initiative to me. Kudo’s to the type of congressperson who researches a problem and right away develops a solution!

This bill has bi-partisan support. That is not a surprise. It is about American values, doing the right thing and what older citizens want. It is also about local business opportunities for those selling and installing products and providing services to people who are aging in place. Another result is training and jobs for workers who do the installations and workers who deliver care. Updated homes support family caregivers so they are not so emotionally and financially burdened and not so likely to fall into poverty. Aging in Place is in alignment with America’s proud history independence.

Are there precedents for this legislation? Two that come immediately to mind are: 1. The solar energy tax credit responsible for some of the most rapid business and job growth in memory as well as supporting America’s independence and ingenuity, and 2. the Department of Energy’s weatherization assistance program (WAP) which has demonstrated incredible returns on investment resulting in jobs, training, energy saving and maintenance of families and homes. Some states and local jurisdictions have similar progressive programs.****

What are some benefits? The biggest benefit is happier and healthier older adults. Updated homes also mean fewer injuries, reducing the misery and $34 Billion spent annually on falls among older citizens. Better homes means those who are injured can return to their homes more quickly. Shorter rehabilitation stays save health care dollars and improve outcomes because people are happier and recover more quickly in their own homes.  Better care environments reduce injuries for family/informal and paid caregivers helping households achieve aging in place longer and more safely. Aging in Place is more economical and more desirable.

What am I doing about it? I support HR 5254. I am writing this blog and providing the accompanying support letter template, asking YOU to write your congressperson in support of the bill.

I am reaching out to all my contacts and networks about Homes Renewed, the organization I lead that connects consumers, business and government stakeholders to support aging in place with ideas like HR 5254. This includes building and tech manufacturers whose product sales will increase, installers whose business will grow, service providers whose operations will become easier, more scalable and more economical, the health providers whose mandate to reduce admissions and re-admissions will be more reasonably accomplished and the health payers whose costs will be contained.

Please join me in supporting the courage, innovation and just plain sense behind HR 5254.

Sincerely, Louis

* As of June 20 there are 18 co-sponsors.

**Another noteworthy proposal is the Inclusive Home Design Act sponsored by Representative Jan Shakowsky (D-Il-9) applied to new homes built with federal dollars and focused on people with mobility impairment.

*** The mortgage interest deduction and VA/FHA funding programs do not focus on aging specific housing

**** Montgomery County Design for Life, Howard County Livable Home, Virginia Livable Home, DC Safe at Home,  Allegheny County Visitability,

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Gunther June 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Excellent post, Louis, and it proves that great minds think alike. You and Homes Renewed and your newly-found allies in Congress are doing important work. Good luck!

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Ravi June 20, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Thank you. I sent an email to my representative and received a call back from his office. I will pass this on to my friends and colleagues at work

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Sandra Timmermann. June 23, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Louis,
This is a big step forward to help the middle class –those who are living on fixed incomes but who don’t qualify for low
income housing subsidies–age at home. For starters, it will give this issue more visibility in the pundit and policy world. I’ll look forward to tracking the progress. Keep up the fight and good work!
Sandy

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Brian Workman June 23, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Louis,
Spot on with your analysis of the importance of this bill. Thank you for being a “doer” and not just a “talker” This important and vital generation deserves your tireless efforts. Thank you Louis!!

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Fritzi Gros-Daillon June 23, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Congratulations, Louis!
This is vital work to support all of us—we are rapidly becoming our own clients!
Fritzi

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Joan Van De Moortel June 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Hi, Louis. Thanks for this information. I’ve written Care for You’s representative, Chris Van Hollan. As you know, I share your passion for Universal Design/barrier-free construction and modifications to PREVENT the broken hip. Wow, what a concept – let’s skip the injuries (ok, reduce them at least), reduce health care costs, reduce pain and suffering, avoid bureaucracy, and provide individuals the tool to make it happen.

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Robert Aquilino June 30, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Louis,

Recognizing the demographic trends, the cost of facility care and the desire for most Americans to Age In Place, this bill is a great start toward improving the quality of life at home.

Bob

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Steven Bailey July 20, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Great news! Your vision and efforts manifested! HR 5254 reflects the desire of millions of Americans to age safe at home. Sending the letter and looking to the future.

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Calisse Weidner September 4, 2016 at 11:28 am

Louis! Age-in-Placers! I love this idea, and the pursuit of stay-at-home as long as possible has been my budding passion for the last few years. I am a personal trainer (fitness), and decided to go beyond my work as a Silver Sneakers Instructor at our Recreation Center and local gym, to meet the people who might have a harder time getting to such a location (or who prefer to stay active in their own home). STAYING ACTIVE and STRONG through exercise is another way to keep ourselves at home longer, and I am trying to find a way to promote this idea, and hopefully tapping into resources that can help make this program (my one-woman program) possible for those on a tight budget. I would love to hear from others who have had experience with programs doing the same! Sincerely, Calisse Weidner, Aurora, CO

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Scott November 1, 2016 at 8:50 pm

There can’t be an age limit. The children who are paying for the changes in the house don’t qualify to take the tax deduction. Their parents don’t have a significant income to utilize the $30,000 deduction . It’s a shame That is a incredibly significant important deal killer. I’ve spoken to the Congressmen’s office about this.
Second very important the center of disease Control provides IRS with a list of allowable deductions. Currently they’re not allowed to deduct anything for cognitive disabilities. A clear argument can and will be made to allow the center of of disease Control the understand that dementia Alzheimers and send melody can have changes to the physical environment told wow parents age and place. This is not a done deal. Let’s get our acts together. the always for the Center of Disease Control can make changes for what the IRS is allowed as a deduction. Its written into the bill no problem. It’s nice to make it a point right now. The age limit is critical if the bill gets passed the way it is children will not be able to take the tax deduction and we might as well flush it down the toilet. Let me tell you about what the $30,000 can buy for mental and cognitive assistance to Age in Place.

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