D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds (D-At Large) has introduced legislation to ease the economic lot of seniors in the District.

“In my moving around talking to constituents, particularly aging persons, they pointed out how difficult it was to make ends meet…and how precious their homes are to them. A light bulb went off and I thought that maybe if they didn’t have to pay property taxes, it would help,” the freshman lawmaker said.

The Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Relief Act of 2013 would grant a 100 percent property tax break for lower-income, largely retired seniors in the District.

To qualify for the relief, if it is enacted, older residents must apply for it, be 75 years and older, have an annual income of $60,000 or less and have lived in D.C. for at least 25 years.

“It’s really to give recognition to those who have lived here a long time…. They’ve given to the city and the city has been benefitting from the taxes they’ve paid into its coffers,” the lawmaker said, “and it is only fair that the city should help them in their time of need.”

In 2011, there were 40.3 million seniors (people 65 and older) in the United States, accounting for 13.3 percent of the total population. Almost 81 percent of them owned homes, however, 8.7 percent of them–3.6 million seniors—lived in poverty.

The dire reality, manifested by an increase in the number of retired seniors who go back to work, or those who have to choose between medicine and food and other factors, reflects the 2008 Wall Street meltdown and the crippling of the U.S. economy in the recent Great Recession.

“You’re having to pay for things on a fixed income and the cost of living is going up, that’s what many of our seniors are coping with more than other age group,” Bonds said.

The legislator said she believes her measure can help ease some of that financial pain for at least 7,000 older District residents.

The bill has not yet been given a hearing date, though Bonds said she hopes it will happen within the next 10 days. She has high expectations of how it would be received, however.

“People have found this to be very favorable,” she said.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO