CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers head back to Charleston next weekend for interim committee meetings and then the beginning of the 60-day regular session on Jan. 10.

John Hardy

Delegate John Hardy, R-Berkeley, said he’ll be introducing legislation that will help offset the cost of living for senior citizens.

“With the rising cost of housing and what our homes are worth, with our real estate prices skyrocketing, I’m worried about our seniors,” Hardy said on Panhandle Live on the Panhandle News Network.

Hardy said sometimes seniors have a difficult time because many of them have fixed incomes. He’ll propose an expansion of the Homestead Exemption that impacts real estate assessments.

“What I’m proposing to do is to lower the standard on which you are able to receive that,” Hardy said.

The current standard for the exemption is your income must be 125% of the poverty level. Hardy wants to change that to 200% of the poverty level.

Other requirements of the Homestead Exemption include being 65 or older, living at least six months at a current residence and being a resident of West Virginia for two years prior to the application for the exemption. Currently if all requirements are met, older homeowners can receive up to a $20,000 reduction of the assessed value of their homes.

Hardy many times senior citizens will have had their home paid for but real estate taxes continue to go up and current limits on the Homestead Exemption keep them from receiving the benefit.

“On a fixed income they can get caught in that,” Hardy said.

The Homestead Exemption was passed by West Virginia voters in 1981 and then adopted by state lawmakers.

Story originally published in WVMetronews.com