Lois Ahrens: ‘Low-income’ seniors being forced out

Published: 2/17/2020 10:14:53 AM

In several letters and columns in support of the March 3 override in Northampton, writers write a version of this: “there are exemptions for low-income seniors.”

As one of the “low-income seniors” referred to in these letters (and surely more to come), I want to provide some information. First, if someone enlists in the senior “work-off” program, the money earned counts as income, which can make you ineligible for other income-based programs.

The property tax exemptions which apparently assuage the concern of supporters of the override is for seniors who have $50,000 or less in reserve. That may sound like a lot but with high Medicare co-pays, or a house that needs a new roof, or if the person needs home care, $50,000 in reserve over the rest of a lifetime is not very much money.

Yes, if one’s house is valued at $300,000 than the increase in taxes is $200. There are, though, two other overrides that passed in the last 10 years and so for many people, the increase would be more like $600 or $700 a year in taxes. This is a significant amount if one’s property taxes are already 30% of one’s yearly income, as mine are.

Northampton is now a place where many people who work here cannot afford the rent, and only people with higher-than-average incomes can afford to buy houses. Add “low-income seniors” to the list of people who will no longer be able to live here. Is this the city the supporters of the override want?

Lois Ahrens


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115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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