Opportunity

2010 brings housing help to elderly


Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 3:43 p.m.

Get off that waiting list for low-income housing.

Save money on energy bills by properly sealing your doors and windows.

Grab a tax credit if you decide to move to sunnier climes.

The nation's growing population of older adults will get some much-needed help for their housing needs in 2010.

Affordable housing: Affordable housing is an important issue facing older people.

AARP, the advocacy group for people 50 and older, reports that there are 10 eligible seniors on the waiting list for every available unit of Section 202 housing - the only affordable-housing program dedicated to seniors.

So in the fall, Congress addressed the backlog by approving a $60 million, or 8 percent, increase for the Section 202 program in fiscal year 2010.

Section 202 provides grants and rental help through nonprofit sponsors of low-income housing.

Energy efficiency and paying the bills on time: The Obama administration is backing several initiatives for energy-efficiency improvements in 2010.

They apply to homeowners of all ages.

Energy efficiency creates savings on monthly bills.

Many older adults live on fixed incomes and need all the help they can get.

To help pay for improvements, the federal stimulus bill provides $5 billion for improvements to protect a home from wind, rain and sunlight.

There also are tax credits available for improvements that lower utility bills.

Seniors struggling to pay their energy bills can turn to the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program.

The federal government is pumping $5.1 billion into the program in 2010.

The $6,500 homebuyer tax credit: In November, Congress created a $6,500 tax credit for people who have owned their home for five consecutive years but want to relocate.

The program is especially beneficial to older homeowners who have owned a home for a long time and have substantial equity in their property.

While people usually don't change homes for a tax break, seniors who have long planned to downsize into a smaller home may want to take advantage of the credit.

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