Your input is needed for the Downtown Charleston Elders/Artists Housing Poll

The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority has joined with an ad hoc group to explore the possibility of creating new housing for seniors and artists in the downtown area of Charleston. We have developed a survey to gauge the interest in such a project as well as get a sense of how area residents envision future housing for themselves.  We are using a “snowball” method of distributing the survey which means we need your help in getting it out.

We ask that you take this online survey by going to this web address: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HCP3RPY (be sure to click the last green box to get your answers recorded!)

Then put this notice, or one you write yourself, with the above web address on your social media and/or message that you send to friends, family and colleagues on your e-mail lists.  The more it ‘snowballs’, the bigger our sample and the more reliable our findings.  The survey takes about 10 minutes.  Hope you have fun filling it out and thank you for participating.

Senior Legislation Watch

Notes from WVPEL Director, Phil Schenk

In his State of the State address, Governor Jim Justice used the word “senior” once. That was a reference to the grade level of one of the basketball players on the team that he coaches. Given that West Virginia is, by percentage, one of the top 3 states in the Union for over-65 populations, this omission is noteworthy. The legislature, however, is looking at a number of bills directly related to elders.

The bills noted below are some of those introduced so far that relate to elder living. It is not presented as a complete list, but is a representation. Note that most of these bills relate to lowering the tax burden on seniors either by altering the existing homestead exemption reduction on property taxes or by reducing income taxes – especially on Social Security income. Numbers 2 and 9 provide other benefits to elders.

  1. SB 97 a fixed-income credit for low income senior citizens; establishing procedures for claiming credit; and defining terms. The bill calls for a 1% credit for those with incomes up to 125% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and then reducing that credit by 4% of the amount for each percentage point of income over 125% (SB125 also includes this provision or a similar one)
  2. HB2044 relating to the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program; creating the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Fund; and requesting additional funds to be added to the fund. This would raise the amount of vouchers for seniors at farmers’ markets from $20 to $50.
  3. SB139 -relating to changing the qualifier for low income from 150% or less to 300% or less of the FPL for a senior citizens’ homestead tax credit. This would help seniors with incomes from about $18,000 (single person or about $24,360 for a family of 2) up to about $36,000 (single person or about $48,700 for a family of 2) on their property taxes.
  4. HJR 15 – constitutional amendment to lock in the values of a home at the assessed value of the home when homeowner turned 65.
  5. HB2358 taking Social Security benefits out of the calculation of adjusted gross income (AGI) for state income taxes (not federal) on a sliding scale. For example: those with incomes of $0-$50,000 would not include any Social Security income in their AGI. Those with incomes of between $50,000 and $70,000 would take 80% of their Social Security income off the AGI. The bill has further cuts depending on income in its sliding scale.
  6. HB2217 relating to increasing the maximum personal income tax exemption for persons over the age of sixty-five and for persons who are totally disabled.
  7. HB2323 exempting SS benefits from state income tax altogether.
  8. HB2848 – relating to providing a tax credit for the costs of modifying homes to make them more accessible for an elderly person or a person with a disability.
  9. SB87 – relating to allowing a person to purchase a Class XS resident senior hunting, fishing and trapping license at the beginning of the year he or she becomes 65, if otherwise eligible.

We strongly urge readers to stay in touch with the AARP West Virginia news regarding legislative actions at the Capitol that relate to seniors in our state.

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