Seniors, disabled encouraged to sign up for interest free loans
Seniors and people with disabilities were today encouraged to apply for an interest free loan available since January last year following a lack of take up.
The loan to fund renovations to make homes more accessible, were implemented through a partnership between the Bermuda Government, Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) and Age Concern.
A total of $500,000 was allocated to the initiative, but only five families of seniors or people with disabilities have signed up so far, according to Barrett Dill, general manager of the BHC.
Mr Dill said during a Zoom press conference hosted by the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors this morning: “We have not received the number of inquiries that we had expected. We have been allocated $500,000 and of that only $40,000 has been used up.
“We would like to get the information out there that the forms are easily available at www.bhc.bm. Forms are also available at our reception desk when we get out of this pandemic phase.
“We want to thank the Government of Bermuda for making these funds available and most importantly to assist our seniors in remaining at home in as comfortable position as possible with the aid of their family members and caregivers.”
The interest free loans are available to people aged 50 or over as well as people with disabilities of any age provided they have someone willing to sign the promissory note for repayment on their behalf.
Also in attendance at the press conference were Claudette Fleming, executive director for Age Concern, Ianthia Simmons-Wade, chairwoman of the Ageing Well Committee and Tinee Furbert, Minister of Social Development and Seniors.
Ms Furbert said: “To our seniors we honour the fact that you have invested your time, energy and finances to build a foundation and we believe that you should be able to age comfortably at home with your loved ones.
“To our disabled persons regardless of your age, we honour the need for a world that is more accessible for you. We recognise that home modifications such as a simple installation of a bathroom fixture, ramp railing, window, lights, toilet seats and other modifications can truly make a world of difference.”
Ms Simmons-Wade said that it was important to plan ahead. “Very often people at 50 don’t think they are old,” she said.
“What is important right now is that at 50 years old you are in a better position to pay back this loan. Too often we look at having to bump our parents up the steps or them not getting the bathroom but we don’t give a lot of attention to it. The most important thing now is to start planning.”
Ms Fleming added: “We at Age Concern strongly urge the growing number of persons in this age category to prepare by taking advantage of this programme particularly in light of our current conditions of Covid-19.
“We have many seniors who are in long-term care at the hospital for example, for various reasons. The more we are able to remain in our homes effectively, the less strain we put on our healthcare system.”
No explanation for the low take-up was given.