In 1976, California voters passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the state to provide property tax relief to low-income seniors.
In 1977, the Legislature enacted an implementing program that, upon approved application, the state would pay the county property taxes as a loan secured by the personal residences for citizens over 62, if they had at least 20 percent equity and had income of no more than $31,500 (in 2007). This allowed many low-income seniors the ability to remain in their residences, instead of being forced to sell them.
In turn, the counties received their property tax income, and the state was paid back on the eventual sale of the property, with interest.
This was a win-win situation — until the Great Recession.
In 2009, the Legislature saw fit to suspend the program. Last year, legislation was introduced to revive the program, but the bill died in committee at the beginning of this year.
However, our local representatives, Assemblyman Das Williams and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, are looking into restoring this program, which would allow the most vulnerable of our society — low-income seniors — to continue living in their homes. This is something nearly every senior aspires to.
Just as voters in 1976 believed, bringing this program back is the right thing to do.
— Ed Fuller is a real estate broker with San Roque Realty Inc. and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at [email protected] or 805.687.1551. The opinions expressed are his own.