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Bill allows seniors to borrow $40K to improve safety, accessibility of homes

Bill 5, the Seniors’ Home Adaptation and Repair Act, offers loans to seniors for repairs and renovations improving the health, safety, mobility and energy efficiency of their homes.

Loans can help seniors improve safety, accessibility and energy efficiency of homes

The Alberta government is offering seniors low-interest loans to make improvements to their own homes. (Shutterstock)

The Alberta government wants to offer seniors low-interest loans for renovations that will allow them to keep living in their homes.

Bill 5, the Seniors' Home Adaptation and Repair Act, will offer loans to seniors for repairs and renovations that improve the health, safety, accessibility and energy efficiency of their homes.

Renovations could include walk-in tubs, ramps and furnaces.

The loans will be no higher than $40,000. Interest will be set at the prime rate with repayment due only when the home is sold or the senior passes away. 

To qualify, seniors 65 years and older must make less than $75,000 per household. Their name must be on the deed and they must retain at least 25 per cent of the equity in their homes. 

Low-income seniors who don't qualify for loans can still apply for $2 million in grants. 

The program is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada. If passed, the bill will take effect July 1, 2016.

Gordon Voth, president of Seniors United Now, said the program will help seniors on a fixed income who may not be able to afford renovations like wider doors to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. 

"Those are the kind of things that allow seniors...to remain in their home, even if it's just one year," he said. "Then they're not in a facility that's consuming more dollars."

The money for the loans is coming from the  Alberta government's general revenues. Officials were unable to provide information on how much the program will cost. That information will be revealed in the budget on April 14.

The government estimates approximately 145,000 households or 260,000 seniors will be eligible for the program.

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