Aging Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-139

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PERSONS RESIDING IN ELDERLY HOUSING AND MEMBERS OF SENIOR CENTERS.

Vote Date:

3/10/2011

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference to Planning and Development

PH Date:

2/24/2011

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Aging Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To protect seniors living in elderly housing and participating in senior centers.

***Substitute language, as contained in LCO 4525, removes the section requiring snow removal and adds new section requiring elderly housing developments that restrict smoking to designated areas to provide covered shelter that is heated when the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.***

***Amendment A requires that residents shall consult with the housing development regarding the planting of such gardens.***

***Amendment B states that if the facility has an indoor heated space with secondhand smoke control they do not have to provide shelter.***

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Ronald Angelo, Jr., Acting Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development

“…While DECD believes SB 139 might be well intended, Sections 1 and 2 of the bill if passed could be financially devastating to the entities operating these properties.

Section 1 describes establishing a new senior citizen bill of rights for residents of elderly and congregate housing projects and members of senior centers. This is simply not needed. Several existing statutes, including C.G.S. 47a-7, Landlord Responsibilities, C.G.S. 8-113a, Housing for Elderly Persons, and 8-116c, Eligibility for Occupancy into Elderly Housing all provide the protections that this proposed bill seeks.”

Representative Elizabeth A. Boukus

“…The resources required to mandate such removal of the snow, not only the manual labor, but also the costs that may be associated with this extra service, may put constraints on senior centers and the senior housing budget. [Note: Section has since been removed.]

The State of Connecticut has done a wonderful job in creating opportunities for senior citizens to live and maintain strong minds and bodies. To hurt the wallets of those facilities who do all that they can to ensure the continued assistance of senior citizens would be a disservice to them and their commitments. I ask that the committee joins me in opposing S.B. 139.”

Susan Whetstone, Interim President-Executive Director, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority

“Section 1 establishes a senior citizen's bill of rights for residents of elderly housing projects. Existing tenant-landlord law and elderly housing statutory requirements protect the rights of seniors and I would offer that this legislation is not needed.

Section 2 would require housing authorities, nonprofit corporations and municipal developers to remove the snow from any vehicle owned by a resident. The cost associated with removing the snow from vehicles would result in substantial increase in operating costs.” [Note: Section has since been removed.]

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Kay M. Warren, Ashford, CT

“We really need to have this bill split into two (2) sections—one for senior centers and one for seniors housing units. Some problems are the same and yet there are other problems totally different in each to require splitting.

Seniors should always have the feeling of being safe at their senior center or their housing unit. Some seniors go to their senior centers for socialization. Seniors go for a variety of reasons. Seniors need to be protected against harassment, bullying, threatening, and everything that you see in my presentation. This Senate bill needs to be more thorough than it is now.”

Lorraine G. Cloutier, Ashford, CT

Testified in support of the bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Dianne Stone, President, Connecticut Association of Senior Center Personnel (CASCP)

“This proposal seeks to establish a senior citizen's bill of rights for residents of elderly housing projects and members of Senior Centers. In my 25 years as a staunch supporter of rights, I never thought I would be speaking in opposition to the establishment of a statement of rights for any group. And in my 12 years in the Senior Center field, I never thought I would be speaking in opposition to the establishment of ethical policy in Senior Centers. But Senior Centers simply do not fit into this Bill. It was clearly written in the context of a residential setting. Other than the fact that we both serve older adults, Senior Centers and Senior Housing have very little in common. In fact, while 'elderly housing' is defined, there is no clear definition of 'Senior Center' here or in any other statute.”

Kevin S. Nelson, Executive Director, Stratford Housing Authority

“I am writing to express opposition to express opposition to the provision in SB 139 which looks to require Housing Authorities to remove snow from elderly tenant vehicles. [Note: Section has since been removed.]

First, we cannot always distinguish a tenant vehicle from a visitor vehicle.

Second, this would require the Authority to maintain a tenant's private property, expose the Authority to damage claims, require an inordinate amount of staff time and money, result in increased insurance costs and would most certainly result in rent increases to provide this service. The Authority takes care of the real estate and the tenant takes care of their personal property.”

Mag Morelli, President, Connecticut Association of Not-for-Profit Providers For the Aging (CANPFA)

“The bills first proposal is to establish a bill of rights for the housing residents. While we do not object to the provisions outlines in the bill of rights, this concept may cause confusion with the current landlord tenant law and elderly housing statutory requirements that regulate the housing sites and protect tenants.

The bill's second proposal is one that would require the management to remove snow from the cars owned by the tenants. We find this proposal to be unreasonable. It is an unfunded mandate that would require the provision of a costly service for a select number of residents who choose to own and maintain a personal vehicle. [Note: Section has since been removed.]

Finally, regarding the garden mandate proposal, we would suggest that language be added to added to recognize that policies regarding the gardens can be established by the housing site and that the residents' have a responsibility to maintain their gardens in an attractive, safe and healthy manner.” [Note: Amendment B addresses this concern.]

Scott C. Bertrand, Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (CONN-NAHRO); Executive Director, Enfield Housing Authority

“…The insurance provider who covers the majority of senior housing in Connecticut is very concerned about possible liability claims. They told me that they will likely need to significantly increase rates if this becomes law. The cost will ultimately be passed on to all residents. [Note: Section has since been removed.]

Also of serious concern is that the proposed senior citizens Bill of Rights is unnecessary. If enacted, it will seriously complicate the existing tenant landlord law and elderly housing statutory requirements that are adequate to protect the rights of seniors. In addition, existing tenant leases, rules and regulations already provide protection of the rights of residents.

…It should be noted that the proposed The Bill of Rights appears to be modeled on the one used in assisted living and nursing homes. The key difference here is that the assisted living and nursing home population relies on the provider for basic daily living needs, this is not the relationship in elderly housing.”

Karen DuBois-Walton, Ph.D., Executive Director, Housing Authority of the City of New Haven

“As you are aware, President Obama has reviewed the current funding levels of the House appropriations committee and the President's proposed budget will cut assistance to Public Housing during the current fiscal year 2011 and further cuts in 2012. All governmental budgets are currently under review and tighter spending controls are anticipated nationally. It's recognized that Bill 139 has the right spirit but with the many challenges facing our budgetary climate it's not feasible to ask Public Housing to take on additional financial responsibilities.” [Note: Section has since been removed.]

Neil J. Griffin, Jr., Senior Vice President, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (CONN-NAHRO); Executive Director, Glastonbury Housing Authority

“The request for a senior citizens bill of rights unnecessarily complicates existing tenant landlord law and elderly housing statutory requirements that already adequately protect the rights of seniors. The provisions requested are generally covered by leases and existing policies.

The Legislation would expose the Authority to incredible liability, stemming from the maintenance of a tenant's private property, more specifically the snow removal provision. [Note: Section has since been removed.]

…The only revenue available to the elderly properties is the rent they collect. So there is only one place to raise the revenues to pay for Senate Bill 139. We will be forced to raise our rents causing an undue hardship on our residents. This will cause many of our lowest income residents, including those who do not own cars, to have a greater financial hardship they do not deserve”.

Reported by: Art Mongillo & Nancy Boyle

Date: 3/14/11