Housing – A Pressing Problem For Colorado Seniors
By Eileen Doherty, MS ~
DENVER, Colo. – Housing is expensive, especially for low income individuals, but for middle income individuals as well. Rent, mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, and maintenance of a home or apartment are costly.
While the pandemic was supposed to put a moratorium on evictions that is still ongoing, we are seeing more and more older adults not only being evicted, but also falling behind in the rent. The rental assistance programs that have been part of the stimulus packages have not been very available to older adults, resulting in a serious lack of resources.
Some homeowners have also fallen behind in their mortgage payments. While the opportunity existed for homeowners to make arrangements with financial institutions for debt restructuring early in the pandemic, many homeowners did not qualify or chose not to take advantage of the opportunity.
The pandemic has brought to light the number of older adults who have had been employed in part or full time jobs to meet the high costs of housing. These jobs are not currently available to many of our older adults for a variety of reasons, such as continued concerns over the risk of contracting COVID-19.
There is some relief on the way. According to Senator Dominick Moreno, Chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, the Senior Property Tax Homestead Exemption tax credit will be available to older adults who have lived in their homes for 10 years or more and who are over the age of 65 for 2021 taxes to be paid in 2022. The tax credit is available on the first $200,000 of assessed value on the property.
The City and County of Denver is introducing a city ordinance to require landlords to register their property and to have regular inspections. The benefit of this proposed ordinance is to improve the living conditions that many people currently find themselves living in because of deferred maintenance. The disadvantage will be increased rental costs due to new requirements that landlords will have to make to the property to pass inspections.
Increases in operations to landlords are always passed on to the consumer and while the proposed fees for Denver landlords are modest, hiring an inspector and making the necessary improvements could be very costly. The result will make significant improvements in the maintenance of the property; however, rental rates will most likely increase forcing even more individuals into having to move and/or facing evictions in Denver.
The Colorado Gerontological Society is inviting you to join us for a three-year effort to work with a Housing Advocacy Coalition for the purpose of identifying public policies that we can implement to help older adults age in place; to assist with lack of funds to pay for rent, mortgage, taxes and utilities; and to look at the health disparities that exist in housing among communities of color. This is an exciting opportunity to make a difference and to find local and statewide solutions for older adults facing housing problems.
To volunteer to join the Housing Advocacy Coalition please call 303-333-3482. Your input will help us to create a better plan for Colorado older adults.
Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society. Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the Director of the Society since 1982. She teaches Nonprofit Management for Fort Hays State University.