Chautauqua County Office for the Aging provides foreclosure outreach assistance

MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Office for the Aging (OFA) is reaching out to seniors on the county tax foreclosure list to remind them of services and programs they may be eligible for that could help them save money, pay their taxes, and retain their homes.

“There are a large number of people on the foreclosure list who may not realize there are resources available to help them keep their homes,” said Office for the Aging Director Dr. Mary Ann Spanos. “In an effort to aid individuals in accessing help before their homes go to auction, we are currently working on reaching out to them to make sure they are taking advantage of programs they may be eligible for.”

Within the next few weeks a volunteer with the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging will call seniors on the tax foreclosure list to refer them to the NY Connects Helpline.

NY Connects, which is housed in the Office for the Aging, is a statewide, locally based point of entry system that provides one stop access to free, objective and comprehensive information and assistance on long term services and supports. Its trained information and assistance specialists will look into a person’s situation and talk to them about available assistance and services to help them reduce other bills so they can pay their taxes and keep their homes.

Some services and programs that can save people money are:

Basic and Enhanced New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) Programs – These programs exempt some of the full value of a home from school taxes based on eligibility and can produce savings up to $1,500 per year depending on the school district.

Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP)- HIICAP counselors provide individuals with unbiased information about Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Programs, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC), benefit programs, and other areas regarding health insurance coverage. They also help seniors compare health insurance plans and decrease co-pays and premium costs without reducing benefits, which allows seniors to save money.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Empower NY, and Other Utility Benefits- These assistance programs can help income-eligible clients reduce their heating or utility bills.

Medicare Savings Plan- This is a program for qualifying low income seniors which will pay their Medicare Part B premiums. The Part B premium is automatically deducted from an individual’s Social Security check every month and is approximately $105. Consequently those who apply and are accepted in the program will see an increase in their social security check by over $1,300 per year.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Meals Programs – SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is available for eligible individuals and can be used like cash to purchase food at authorized retail food stores, Farmer’s Markets, or plants and seeds for a vegetable garden. SNAP benefits can be also used in lieu of a donation for senior congregate meals (including Senior Restaurant Dining-Out Program tickets) and for the Meals on Wheels program.

Seniors who have a home listed in foreclosure or would like to learn more about the above programs are encouraged to call the NY Connects Helpline at 363-4582, 753-4582 or 661-7582.