According to the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, Massachusetts has the second most widespread elder economic insecurity in the U.S., second only to Mississippi. Norfolk County has the second greatest concentration of elder economic insecurity of all MA counties.
Brookline is one of the wealthiest municipalities in MA, with median household income of $96,600. Families, and especially families with dependent children, have the highest median income in Brookline. Median income for Brookline families is $144,900 and for Brookline families with dependent children, $197,600.
By contrast, the median income among Brookline senior women living alone is $32,500. The Town of Brookline, the Brookline Senior Center and other services offer programs designed to help low- and moderate-income seniors, including several means-tested tax relief programs. This warrant article is designed to address the needs of some of those seniors who are 65 years of age or older, and who do not qualify for the existing means-tested town programs, and are struggling to maintain their homes while also paying for services they may need to stay at home. Eligible seniors would continue to pay property taxes and the annual increase allowed by Prop. 2 1/2, but be exempted from future overrides and debt exclusions.
FY2018 Income limits for HUD programs, including BETS and Tax Abatement, give three income limits for a household size of one:
Extremely Low Income: $21,700
Very Low Income: $36,200
Low Income: $54,750
The Federal low-income designation for programs is based on national averages for cost of living. The true cost of living in Brookline, where taxes, housing/rental and energy costs are way above the national average, means that, de facto, a higher percentage of our seniors are in need.
Some seniors affected by this request have lived in Brookline for many years. It is their home, where some of them grew up, raised children, worked, paid taxes, and found life-long friends. Some of them have served in Town Meeting, and continue to be active in our age-friendly community. Over time, their houses have been assessed higher and higher, and the costs of repairing and maintaining them continue to rise. With rapidly increasing property taxes and school overrides a reality for the future, it becomes more difficult to feel secure in their homes.
In December, 2012, Brookline received "Age-Friendly" status, and joined the World Health Organization's "Age-Friendly" network, the first municipality to be so designated in New England, and the ninth municipality in the United States. Such a town should support those who have lived here for many years and who want to "age in place" in their own homes.