COLUMBUS—State Representatives Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) have introduced bipartisan legislation to allow senior citizens and the disabled to have improved accessibility to their homes through the use of a state tax credit, to be called the “Livable Homes Tax Credit.”
“Home renovation investments are needed to promote independent living because older Americans often occupy homes that were constructed in earlier decades, when physical accessibility was not a priority for homebuilders or homeowners,” Rep. Stinziano said.
The legislation introduced by Grossman and Stinziano would provide state tax credits for the building, purchasing or remodeling of homes to incorporate accessibility and universal design features. This allows them to live in their homes longer and more comfortably.
Taxpayers who renovate their existing residence with universal designs would eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the total cost, not to exceed $5,000. In addition, a tax payer who purchases or constructs a new residence with universal designs is also eligible for a tax credit up to $5,000.
“I have personally worked with individuals who have needed to alter their homes for accessibility because of major health issues. As we strive to keep our residents in their homes, where they want to remain living, it is vital that we provide them the means to do so,” Rep. Grossman said. “I am pleased to sponsor this legislation to recognize the difficult financial challenges many Ohioans face within their homes as they deal with health challenges in their lives.”
It is estimated that more than one million older adults live in homes that are not suited to their physical needs. The proposed tax credit would create an incentive for homeowners and contractors to incorporate universal designs features that have been shown to reduce the incidence of falls among older and disabled individuals and have the potential of saving millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
According to figures from the Ohio Department of Health, between 2000 and 2010, Ohioans aged 65 and older experienced a 163 percent increase in the number of fatal falls and a 145 percent increase in the fall death rate. In 2010, an average of three older Ohioans suffered fatal falls each day. It is estimated that falls among older adults cost Ohioans more than $645 million in 2010 in medical expenses.
Stinziano and Grossman introduced similar legislation during the 129th General Assembly.