Seniors in Rhode Island have housing options

Seniors in Rhode Island have housing options

CRANSTON - One of the most important elements in any plan for successful and productive aging is housing. A house is not only a home, it's a safe and secure environment where you can thrive and be comfortable. Fortunately, Rhode Island seniors have choices that are designed to meet their individual situation. From home ownership to subsidized housing, there's a place for everyone.

For seniors who own their homes and need some help paying their property taxes, many Rhode Island cities and towns offer property tax abatements to residents who meet certain requirements. Call your city or town hall.

The Rhode Island Division of Taxation offers a rebate to eligible persons to help them pay their property taxes or rent under the Rhode Island Property Tax Relief Program. Home owners and renters who were Rhode Island residents for all of 2013 may qualify for a rebate of up to $300 from the Rhode Island Division of Taxation.

Household income cannot exceed $30,000 and the income of all persons living in the household must be included on the application for property tax relief. In addition to the $30,000 income limit, applicants need to fulfill several other requirements to be eligible to receive a rebate.

For information and assistance with the RI-1040H Property Tax Relief Claim, call the Division of Taxation at 401-574-8829. The number to obtain forms is 574-8970. The Division of Taxation website is www.tax.state.ri.us.

Assisted living provides rooms or apartments, meals, 24-hour staffing, assistance with personal care and dispensing medication, housekeeping, laundry, activities, and other services that allow adults to stay in the community. The costs and fees vary considerably. There are more than 60 licensed assisted living facilities in the state. To get a copy of the assisted living sites in Rhode Island, call The Point, the state's aging and disability resource center, at 401-462-4444. TTY users can call 401-462-4445.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, often referred to as reverse mortgages, allow seniors to borrow against the equity in their homes. The loan is repaid when the house is sold or when the owner/borrower no longer lives there. Interest rates and loan limits vary from lending institution to lending institution. Under HECM, borrowers must be 62 or older and meet annual income limits. For more information, contact your local bank, credit union, or other financial institution.

Rhode Island Housing oversees the management of 20,000 apartments for low-income seniors, families, and persons with disabilities. Approximately 15,000 of these apartments are Section 8. Under this category, tenants pay 30 percent of their income for rent. The remaining 5,000 apartments have a variety of subsidies that keep the rents affordable for low-income households.

Generally, residents of Section 8 apartments must earn no more than 50 percent of the Housing and Urban Development median family income for their community and household size. Applicants can apply for housing in any community in which they would like to live. Most communities have a waiting list for these units.

The Rhode Island Housing Rental Resource Guide provides information on rental assistance programs, subsidized housing, Section 8 subsidies, emergency shelters, and transitional housing.

The Rhode Island Housing Help Center offers seniors a place to receive help with their mortgages, and avoid foreclosure. Seniors who have received a notice of a tax sale for their home may contact the Rhode Island Housing Help Center for information at 401-457-1130, or the Rhode Island Bar Association at 401-521-5040 for legal assistance.

Seniors can also contact the local tax assessor to inquire about a payment plan, or other arrangements to remove their property from tax sale. For more information on Rhode Island Housing resources, call 401-457-1234, or go to www.rihousing.org. TTY users can call 401-450-1394.

HomeLocatorRI.net is a free website that lists homes for rent or sale in Rhode Island. Call 1-877-428-8844, or go to www.homelocatorri.net for more information. Homeless or disabled veterans can contact Operation Stand Down Rhode Island at 401-383-4730 for assistance.

The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless publishes the "Street Sheet," a listing of emergency shelters, food pantries, and other helpful resources. For information, call 401-721-5685, or log on to www.rihomeless.org. Crossroads Rhode Island provides information and referral for the homeless and those in transition. Their number is 401-521-2255. Their website is www.crossroadsri.

- Larry Grimaldi, Chief of Information & Public Relations, Department of Human Services Division of Elderly Affairs