SALEM — The Oregon Senate gave final legislative approval to HB 2489A, which provides direct relief to hundreds of seniors struggling to stay in their homes. The bill extends the ability to participate in the Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program to seniors who had been previously disqualified because they had a reverse mortgage.

The Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program allows seniors and disabled individuals who have qualifying incomes and meet other criteria to defer county property taxes; the state is repaid when their homes are sold. Given the housing crisis of recent years and increased demand, the program was on the verge of insolvency until the Legislature made significant changes to protect the core of the program. While the changes maintained program solvency, those changes also created an unexpected hardship for some vulnerable homeowners.

In 2012, the Legislature granted a two-year reprieve for those participants who were disqualified solely because of a reverse mortgage, meaning their next taxes would have been owed in November. With passage of HB 2489A, these homeowners will have the security of continued eligibility for the program.

HB 2489A will now go to Gov. John A. Kitzhaber for his signature.

“This action by the state legislature will provide relief to Clatsop County citizens who’d previously been forced out of the program,” said Carolyn Bjornstrom, Clatsop County Coordinator for the Alliance of Vulnerable Homeowners, an advocacy group for senior citizens, especially on issues of senior citizen property tax deferral.

For information, go to www.vulnerable