On March 29, 2017, United States Congressman Charlie Christ of Florida introduced the Senior Accessible Housing Act (HR 1780) to the U.S. House of Representatives. The act, if ever signed into law, would allow individuals 60 years of age and older to receive tax-based credits to modify their homes in a way that would “enhance their ability to remain living safely, independently and comfortable in the residence.”
The Act proposes to provide qualified recipients with a lifelong tax credit up to $30,000. In other words, if someone makes $10,000 worth of modifications to their home one year, they would have another $20,000 in credits to use in the future. Modifications would include adding entrance and exit ramps, mounting handrails and grab bars, installing non-slip flooring, and even widening doorways for better wheelchair or walker access.
This is important for a number of reasons:
- According to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), 87 percent of Americans ages 65 and up stated they wish to stay in their own homes and communities as they grow older.
- However, based on statistics complied by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Housing Survey, only 31% of the homes surveyed were single story, and 56% reported that the use of steps in one form or another was required to access the residence from the outside. The survey also found that 3.9% of the homes with stairways had broken or missing railings.
- Moving—either into a new home that is already modified, into an independent living retirement community, or a facility that offers assisted living services—can be significantly expensive.
- Additionally, the number of Americans 60 years of age and older is expected to increase from 48 million to 79 million by the year 2035. Individuals who are 80 years and older are expected to double (from 12 million to 24 million) within the same timeframe. This could cause a significant lack of appropriate housing.
Our mission at Hampton Roads Mobility is to make sure people can continue to live safely and securely in their own homes, whether they are experiencing mobility issues because of again, from injuries, or while healing from surgical procedures. We will continue to monitor the progress of HR 1780 in hopes that it will soon become a law to address the issues stated above.