Action Alert: Home Modification / Visitability Tax Credit

ACTION ALERT in large white letters on a dark red rectangular background
This Action Alert comes from the New York Association on Independent Living, (NYAIL) ...

Tell Your Legislators To Support Community Living By Including a Home Modification, or Visitability Tax Credit In This Year's Budget!

People want to live in homes, not nursing homes! Very often, basic home modifications make the difference between the ability to live one's life in the community and being homebound, or worse, sent into an institution. Yet, Governor Cuomo's proposed budget once again fails to include a tax credit to assist with the costs of modifying one's home.

The Visitability Tax Credit bill, A.9303/S.6943 of 2016 was passed by both houses, but vetoed for the second year in a row by Governor Cuomo. This bill would provide homeowners with a tax credit of up to $2,750 to renovate their home to make it more universally visitable, or to go toward the cost of developing a universally visitable home. Governor Cuomo had stated in his veto message he supported the proposal, but that it needed to be dealt with in the Budget. Yet, he did not include this tax credit in his budget proposal. We must urge the Legislature to include the Visitability Tax Credit in their budget proposals.  Assemblymember Lavine circulated a budget sign-on letter in the Assembly, but Senate and Assembly leadership need to know this is important to the disability community.

Action:

Make two calls today!

1. Call your assembly member today and request they urge Speaker Heastie to include a Visitability tax credit, such as in A.9303/S.6943 of 2016. You can reach your assembly member by calling the Assembly switchboard at #518-455-4100 and ask to be connected to your assembly member.

Say: "Hello, as a constituent and a person with a disability, I am calling to urge [Assembly member's name] to communicate their support for a home modification tax credit to Speaker Heastie to be included in the Assembly's budget proposal. This tax credit would help people with disabilities and older New Yorkers with the costs of making their homes more accessible and would allow people to age in place "

2. Call your State Senator and urge them to communicate their support for a Visitability tax credit, as in A.9303/S.6943 of 2016 to Senator Flanagan. You can reach your senator by calling the Senate switchboard at #518-455-2800 and ask to be connected to your senator.

Say: "As a constituent and a person with a disability, I am calling to urge [your senator's name] to support including a home modification tax credit in the budget, as in A.9303/S.6943 of 2016, which was passed by the legislature but vetoed. Please tell [your senator's name] to communicate their support for including this tax credit in the Senate's budget to Senator Flanagan.] "

If you aren't sure who your state senator or assembly member is, you can look that up here:

http://ilny.org/advocacy/vv-action-alerts

Background:

The disability community has long advocated for New York to increase the accessible housing stock across the State by incentivizing the use of "visitability" design standards. This includes basic accessible features, including:

One no-step entrance
An accessible path to the door
hallways and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair
An accessible bathroom on the first floor

The NYS legislature passed similar legislation in 2015 and 2016. Governor Cuomo vetoed this legislation twice, indicating his support for the concept, but stating it had to be done in the context of the Budget. However, Governor Cuomo didn't include this in his proposed Executive Budget. This means we need the Assembly and Senate to include the tax credit in their one house budget proposals.

Last year, it was determined that there was a need to better understand the cost estimates for such a program. For this reason, the sponsors included a $1 million cap per year in aggregate to A.9303/S.6943. As the program would now be considered a pilot project, the State has five years to determine whether this cap is sufficient to meet the needs of the population.

Due to the high cost of home modifications, many people cannot afford to make changes to their homes to make them more accessible, or to move to a more accessible home. Most prefer to remain at home rather than move to nursing facilities or different, more accessible housing as their needs change. However, many are forced out because their homes are no longer safe or practical for them to live in. This tax credit will help to ensure that people with disabilities and older New Yorkers are able to afford these modifications and remain in their homes.