As part of her “Aging in the Community” package of legislation, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) has introduced legislation that would reform property tax relief for Rhode Island’s elderly community by increasing the property tax credit for low-income seniors.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)

The bill (2017-H 5458) would amend the law on property tax relief extended to elderly and/or disabled persons by eliminating the lowest income range of $6,000, increasing the income range from $30,000 to $35,000 and increasing the maximum credit amount for property tax relief to $750.

“The two demographics most cost-burdened with affordable housing are the millennials — many have no choice but to move back in with their parents — and seniors over the age of 65,” explained Representative Ruggiero.  “We must do more to help older adults stay in their homes. This law will increase the property tax credit for low-income seniors, freeing more space in their household budgets, which will lead to greater financial stability and independence.”

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) and Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), has been referred to the House Finance Committee.

The bill is the latest in an “Aging in the Community” legislative package introduced this session by Representative Ruggiero that’s designed to address the unique issues of Rhode Island’s population as it begins to age.

Earlier this session, she introduced a bill (2017-H 5251) that would establish a community senior services grant program to provide financial assistance to municipalities and nonprofit organizations that operate senior centers and/or senior programs.

The grant program would provide financial assistance and incentives to local governments and nonprofit agencies to operate senior centers and other senior services programs that help older residents to remain living in the community. Such services may include outreach, social services, health promotion, physical fitness, recreation, life-long learning, transportation assistance and caregiver support services for persons age 65 and older.

Representative Ruggiero also introduced a resolution (2017-H 5294) that would ask the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to conduct a comprehensive Elder Mobility Study to examine the mobility needs of the state’s elderly population as part of the authority’s plan for the development of a revised coordinated human services transit plan.

Specifically, the plan would recognize the significant projected increase in persons age 65 and over, identify gaps in current state transit programs for seniors, identify the best practices for more responsive senior transit program, and available transportation options to include ride share programs, volunteer programs, and the estimated needed resources to help meet the projected demand.

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