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  • Maine’s live Tele-Town Hall with House Speaker Eves and State Sen. Burns reveals deep concerns for Mainers 50+

    By Ramona du Houx

    On Thursday, March 12th House Speaker Mark Eves and State Senator David Burns participated in a live AARP Maine-sponsored tele-town hall. The discussion focused on the challenges facing Mainers 50+.  Almost 12,000 AARP members from across the state joined the town hall meeting.  Speaker Eves(D) and Senator Burns(R) answered many of their questions live during the call.

     Eves and Burns formed the Legislature’s first-ever Caucus on Aging to bring Democrats and Republicans together to address critical challenges facing Maine seniors. Maine has the oldest population in the country. One in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030, according to US census projections. 

    The focus of the discussion, moderated by AARP Maine State Director, Lori Parham, centered on issues of concern to older residents including affordable housing, caregiving, aging in place initiatives and property taxes.  Speaker Eves and Senator Burns discussed measures under consideration to help older Mainers live independently and with a more secure retirement. 

    Eves' “Keep ME Home” plan would create 1,000 units of affordable housing for seniors in each of Maine’s 16 counties through a $65 million housing bond; boost pay for in-home care workers who have not had a raise in nearly a decade; and expand property tax credits for older residents. 

     One caller in her early 60’s wondered what kind of help could be provided to caregivers who are working now, but considering early retirement due to their caregiving duties. Both Speaker Eves and Senator Burns pledged their commitment to addressing this issue.  Speaker Eves mentioned that more than 200,000 residents in Maine are family caregivers. 

    Many AARP members asked questions about property taxes which, for some residents, are a barrier to their feeling they can stay in Maine in retirement.  Senator Burns stated that “the current bills being considered in the legislature do not go far enough.” 

    Several town hall participants also expressed concern regarding the lack of affordable housing which continues to plague many communities in Maine.  One caller described her desire to downsize and move into a smaller apartment in a downtown location, but no options exist for her to be able to do this.  Part of the KeepMEHome initiative is committed to expanding the development of affordable senior housing throughout Maine.

    Eves' “Keep ME Home” plan would create 1,000 units of affordable housing for seniors in each of Maine’s 16 counties through a $65 million housing bond; boost pay for in-home care workers who have not had a raise in nearly a decade; and expand property tax credits for older residents. 

    Both Speaker Eves and Senator Burns stated that “the best way individuals can help generate support for these initiatives is for them to stay connected with AARP Maine and their own representatives. It is very helpful for us to hear directly from our constituents.”

     Participants were contacted by telephone and invited to join the call and ask their questions live.

    “The fact that almost 12,000 AARP members joined this town hall shows us how important these issues are and how critical it is for our lawmakers to work together in the spirit of bi-partisanship to find sustainable solutions,”said Parham.

  • Maine project helps seniors age in place while growing local jobs

    Maine state Rep. Roberta Beavers, and House Speaker Mark Eves,  at the groundbreaking celebration for Young Street Apartments held at the South Berwick Public Library on Wednesday.  The new housing will be located in the heart of town, next to the library. 

    By Ramona du houx

    Maine House Speaker Mark Eves joined community leaders on December 17th to celebrate the groundbreaking for new affordable housing for local seniors.

    The Young Street Apartments were made possible by the collaboration between the Town of South Berwick and Avesta Housing. The 28 units for people 55 and older is by the library, the elementary school, Main Street and a residential neighborhood.

    The goals of the project are in line with Eves’ KeepME Home initiative to help Maine seniors age independently and have a more secure retirement. The initiative includes a proposed $65 million bond to create affordable housing in each of Maine’s 16 counties for a total of 1,000 units.

    “The Young Street Apartments are going to do so much to help its senior residents live independently longer where they have their roots. The new housing is located in the heart of town, near the amenities and the services seniors need to participate in their community,” said Eves, D-North Berwick, whose district includes this part of South Berwick. “We can do this many time over in every county of the state – all while putting Mainers to work at a time when our state faces a significant jobs gap.”

    The development and construction of the Young Street Apartments will bring $6 million in economic investment into South Berwick and create and maintain 200 jobs.  

    “This project is great news for local seniors and our area,” said Rep. Roberta Beavers, D-South Berwick. “Our community can be proud to be home to such a project – one that can inspire and inform others in Maine and help our state meet the challenges of our aging population. So many of us will be eagerly following this project to see how it can serve as model for others.”

    In addition to creating affordable housing for seniors, Eves’ KeepME Home plan would boost pay for in-home care workers who have not had a raise in nearly a decade and expand property tax credits for seniors.

    KeepME Home recognizes the demographic challenge that Maine faces. Already the oldest state in the nation, Maine is seeing 50 people turning 65 each day. Maine also has some of the oldest housing stock in the country, which can be more expensive and difficult to maintain for homeowners. 

  • Maine’s aging challenges top priority for caucus

    Speaker Eves and Sen. Burns to Co-Chair Legislative Group on State’s Aging Challenges

    Maine’s aging challenges will be the top priority for a new bipartisan group of lawmakers in the State Legislature.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick and Republican State Senator David Burns of Whiting on Monday announced they will co-chair a caucus of bipartisan lawmakers who will work together to identify and advance key priorities for older adults and their families.

    “Lawmakers must make addressing the challenges facing our rapidly aging state a top priority this session. Forming a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers dedicated to helping seniors is a first step to doing so,” said Eves, who introduced a package of measures as part of his KeepME Home plan to help Maine seniors live independently longer. “If you’ve worked hard your whole life, you deserve a secure retirement and all too often Maine seniors are finding it harder and harder to have financial security as they age. It’s a challenge for our seniors and a challenge for our state.”

    Maine is the oldest state in the nation. One in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030, according to U.S. Census projections. 

    “Addressing the issues that concern our senior citizens has always been a top priority for me as a legislator,” said Senator Burns. “Serving on the Long Term Care Commission for the last couple of years as well as being a board member on Eastern Area Agency on Aging has only reinforced in my mind the need for our state to put necessary resources into the services for our aging population.  I am honored to work with Speaker Eves as well as all legislators and the Administration to address this very important issue.”

     

    The bipartisan group will hold its first meeting in January.

  • Maine House Speaker Eves held forum on aging proposals in Brewer,

    By Ramona du Houx - October 20th, 2014 

     

    Maine’s House Speaker Mark Eves. Photo by Ramona du Houx.

    A statewide plan to help older adults age in their homes and communities got strong backing from local area seniors and community leaders during a forum at Brewer Medical Center, this fall.

    More than area fifty seniors, community leaders, and aging experts attended the forum with Maine House Speaker Mark Eves, who sought input on his package of bills to redirect state resources to help seniors live independently longer.

    “Brewer and Bangor are on the leading edge of our state’s rapidly aging population,” said Eves of North Berwick. ‘We heard great feedback from local leaders and seniors about what’s working here. No matter where you go in the state, seniors are concerned about rising property taxes, access to affordable housing, high heating costs and direct care services. We know these challenges are real barriers for seniors who want to live independently in their communities where they raised a generation.”

    Eves is proposing a package of measures, called the KeepME Home plan, to create affordable housing for seniors in each of Maine’s 16 counties through a $65 million housing bond; boost pay for in-home care workers who have not had a raise in nearly a decade; and expand property tax credits for seniors.

    “It’s wonderful to have our state leaders prioritize plans to help seniors age in our homes and communities,” said Audrey Dyer, who has lived in her home on Hogan Street in Bangor since 1954. “I’m fortunate to have my family around but so many Maine seniors don’t have help and are struggling with property taxes or heating their homes.”

    Dyer is the grandma of State Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor who brought her to the event. Seniors, direct care workers, and aging experts who attended the event repeated the concerns Dyer raised throughout the hour-long forum Tuesday morning.

    Maine is the oldest state in the nation. One in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030, according to U.S. census projections.

    Brewer Mayor Jerry Goss, Bangor Mayor Ben Sprague and local state legislators joined the forum and spoke about the leadership the cities have taken on affordable housing for seniors.

    “Brewer has great models of affordable housing for seniors,” said Rep. Archie Verow of Brewer. “Our area has led efforts to help seniors remain more independent. I’m committed to continuing that work to help seniors age in their homes and communities.”

    Verow joined Eves for a tour of the new Chamberlain senior housing units in the town following the forum.

    Eves and Verow said the Chamberlain affordable housing unit could be a good model for the Speaker’s housing proposal because it was built with housing authority bond funds and also uses tax credits for seniors to help finance the cost of the facility.

    The KeepME Home plan is part of a culmination of nearly a year of work collaborating with aging experts, caregivers, municipal, and business leaders. The proposals will serve as key pieces of a larger package of legislation on aging in the 127th Legislature, which convenes in December.