Delco seniors face barriers including affordable housing & confusing tax system

Mary Walk (at left), Delco Register of Wills; Terri Clark of SAGECare; Robin Goldberg-Glen of Widener University Center for Social Work Education; Christina Drzal, Supervising Attorney for LASP's Regional Housing Unit; and Karen Buck, Executive Director, SeniorLAW Center.

MORTON - On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 7, 2019, Christina Drzal, LASP Staff Attorney, joined a panel of regional experts to discuss major issues facing senior citizens in Delaware County. Held at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit in Morton, the panel provided insights on ongoing senior legal issues to PA Sen. Tim Kearney, U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, PA Sen. Tom Killion, PA Rep. Mike Zabel, PA Rep. Leanne Krueger, Kevin Madden of Delaware County Council; and staffers from the office of PA Rep. Jennifer O'Mara.

Drzal, who supervises LASP's Regional Housing Unit, discussed some of the issues that Delaware County senior citizens face, including lack of affordable housing and a tax structure that can confuse seniors.

In terms of housing affordability, Drzal noted that $791 is the minimum SSI payment for seniors, and LASP's Delaware County senior clients who are facing eviction receive a median monthly income of $1,035. Meanwhile, in her 11 years with LASP, Drzal has observed housing costs at a minimum of $800-850 per month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Delco.

The tax structure also affects senior citizens. "Seniors face difficulties in maintaining home ownership due to unaffordable tax repayment plans, fees and interest charged by their local Tax Claim Bureau," Drzal said. "They also face challenges navigating the multiple entities collecting taxes."

In addition to Drzal's five-minute presentation, other panelists discussed how senior abuse, exploitation and theft go unreported for fear of retribution from caregivers, as well as issues of isolation, financial hardship and language and cultural barriers. Grandparents' rights, guardianship, efforts to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible, senior scams and phone spoofing also were presented by other panelists: Karen Buck, Executive Director, SeniorLAW Center; Denise Stewart and Theresa Butts of the Delaware County Office of Services for the Aging (COSA); Katayoun Copeland, Delco District Attorney; Chelsey Price, Delco Senior Victims Services; Mary Walk, Delco Register of Wills; Terri Clark of SAGECare; and Robin Goldberg-Glen of Widener University Center for Social Work Education.