Wagner bill would protect seniors, disabled
February 8, 2011
State Rep. Chelsa Wagner, D-Brookline, plans to reintroduce legislation to protect seniors and disabled individuals from a common predatory practice by landlords.
"As seniors and disabled Pennsylvanians begin applying for the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate next month, I will be working to ensure that they receive every dollar to which they are entitled. My bill would prevent landlords from taking public money meant to benefit their tenants," Ms. Wagner said. "As we work to plug a record state budget deficit, we must be mindful that our citizens face their own challenges—the elderly and disabled who depend on this rebate foremost among them. We must make sure this money reaches those for whom it is intended."
Currently, many personal care homes include a lease provision, often overlooked or not understood by tenants or their family members, which allows the personal care home to claim a portion of the rebate designated for a tenant, typically 50 percent or $325. The lease agreement provided to personal care homes by the state Department of Public Welfare actually includes boilerplate language claiming the rebate for landlords.
"This practice must be ended. Seniors and disabled residents of our Commonwealth are faced with difficult economic times on a fixed income, and it is our responsibility to do all that we can to protect their economic security," Rep. Wagner said.
The legislation, formerly House Bill 1587, unanimously passed the House Urban Affairs Committee last March but never received a vote on the House floor.
"I urge legislative leaders of both parties and Governor Corbett to ensure that this bill is passed and enacted into law before rebate checks go out in July. We should not tolerate another year of this benefit being denied to our most vulnerable citizens," Ms. Wagner said.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, funded by lottery revenues, provides low-income seniors, widows and widowers, and disabled individuals with a rebate up to $650 on rent paid. Rep. Wagner's bill would ensure that these funds benefit the eligible recipients, not their landlords.