The following is a letter from the Maplewood Seniors Advisory Committee:
July 21, 2020
The Honorable Phil Murphy
Governor of New Jersey
Office of the Governor
Re: Reinstatement of Senior Freeze and Homestead Benefit Program
Dear Governor Murphy:
The Maplewood Seniors Advisory Committee is the subcommittee of the Maplewood Township Committee that focuses on enabling all seniors in our township to age in place for as long as possible. Our greatest challenge is finding ways for seniors to be able to afford to remain in their home of many years. The tax stress felt by all our residents compounded by the substantial reduction in the SALT tax deduction has presented a huge challenge in our ability to carry out this aim. The loss of funding for the Senior Freeze and Homestead Rebate programs will make this task virtually impossible.
While we understand the extreme financial pressure being placed this year on the State of New Jersey due to revenue shortfall and added expenses in responding to the COVID – 19 pandemic, we maintain that balancing the budget while depriving the most vulnerable among us, low income seniors and disabled individuals who rely on the subsidy provided by these programs to enable them to remain in their homes, is just wrong. These residents will be forced to leave their home due to inability to pay their real property tax if this funding is eliminated. Needing to find and relocate to other housing during the pandemic will endanger the health and life of the impacted low-income seniors and disabled even more than if they were able to remain in their present home.
Our seniors have already sacrificed so much this year, remaining home for months, relying on others to provide them with the most basic needs so they do not contribute further to the hospitalization and death toll that have plagued our State, our Country and the World for the past seven months. Their homes have become their sanctuary, their bubble of safety. To deny these seniors and disabled even the roof over their head in the name of a balanced budget is just too much to ask.
While we realize the impossibly difficult task faced by Trenton to present a balanced budget which still meets the most basic needs of our citizens, we implore you to find a way to do this without casting our low income seniors and disabled out in the street. Governor Murphy, we ask that another look be taken at the State budget and that the funding be found to reinstate the Senior Freeze and Homestead Rebate Programs. Thank you in advance for helping the low-income seniors and disabled of our State.
Kurt H. Kiley, Chair
Joan S. Crystal
Judith T. Kramer, Secretary
Nettie F. Thomas