by Morinville News Staff

The government is hoping a new bill will let seniors improve the safety and sustainability of their homes.

Bill 5, the Seniors’ Home Adaptation and Repair program, would create a new low-interest home equity loan program to allow qualifying senior homeowners to finance essential home repairs and adaptations. Improvements and modifications would include doorway and hallway widening, installation of walk-in tubs, roof, and electrical repairs.

A maximum home equity loan of $40,000 to seniors with a qualifying income of no more than $75,000 provided they have a minimum home equity of 25 per cent.

Under the proposed government program, seniors would not be required to pay monthly loan payments like they would with traditional loan programs. The province says about 145,000 senior households would be eligible.

“Home should mean comfort and security for all of us. For many seniors, being able to remain in their homes for as long as they choose, or are physically able, is vital to their independence and quality of life,” said Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, adding the proposed program would help seniors stay at home. “This program addresses the needs and priorities of an aging population.”

Gordon Voth, President of Seniors United Now (SUN), is embracing the program.

“A loan for needed repairs and modifications to seniors’ homes can assist them to remain in the comfort and safety of their homes for a longer period of time, which will greatly benefit many Alberta seniors,” Voth said.

The government said low-income seniors who do not qualify under the loan program may still be eligible for a grant to help finance necessary home repairs.

Additionally, the proposed loan program will include elements protecting consumers, including the ability to review the reasonableness of the costs of the home repair as well as the right to cancel contracts.

If passed, the Seniors’ Home Adaptation and Repair program will be effective July 1 of this year.

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