Bruce Poliquin bill seeks to help seniors stay in their homes

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Hoping to lend a hand to aging Americans who want to stay in their own homes, a bipartisan measure proposed in the U.S. House would offer tax credits to help make necessary improvements more affordable.

Pushed by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, the bill would provide homeowners with up to a $30,000 tax credit for modifications required to help seniors stay in their homes, from adding grab bars in showers to widening doorways or adding ramps for wheelchairs.

“This is all about quality of life,” Poliquin said on his Facebook page. “Maine senior citizens should be allowed to stay in their homes as long as possible.”

Betsy Sawyer-Manter, president and chief executive officer of the Lewiston-based SeniorsPlus, said that “anything that can help seniors is well worth it.”

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She said seniors are often short of the cash needed to make improvements or simply keep up with maintenance, making it tougher for them to stay in their homes. Having some help with such things as moving door thresholds can make a big difference, Sawyer-Manter said.

Poliquin’s proposal, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., didn’t get anywhere last year, but proponents hope to sway their colleagues this time around.

“Many of our seniors in Maine live on a modest income, making expensive assisted living and nursing homes not a viable option as they age,” Poliquin said in a press release issued by Crist.

He said he is “very pleased to join congressman Crist in pushing forward this legislation to help give our seniors the choice to stay in their own homes in their retirement years.”

Studies have shown that keeping older Americans in their homes, where many want to stay, is often less costly for taxpayers than shelling out for their care in long-term facilities.

Crist said staying home can also “improve their quality of life.”

“Providing tax credits for home modifications is smart policy – it’s better for our seniors and better for our communities,” Crist said.

“I’m proud of this bipartisan effort to extend the Golden Rule to those in their golden years,” Crist said.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd Maine

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