Policy Backgrounder: KeepME Home Initiative


The “KeepME Home” initiative addresses key concerns of older Mainers: living independently
and having financial security. The plan from Speaker Eves will create affordable housing for
seniors in each of Maine’s 16 counties, boost support for in-home care workers and expand
property tax credits for seniors. These proposals will serve as key pieces of a larger package of
legislation on aging in the 127th legislature.

POLICY IMPERATIVE: Maine is the oldest state in the nation. Each day 50 people turn 65.
One in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030, according to census projections. Our
rapidly aging population is a policy imperative.


1) Build More Affordable Housing for Seniors

Solution: To address the fundamental mismatch between our housing supply and our housing
needs, we propose a bold investment in Maine’s infrastructure through an innovative senior
housing bond. This $65 million general obligation bond would be used in combination with a
mix of private and public resources to create 1,000 highly energy-efficient homes for Maine’s
seniors in locations that will enable them to successfully and affordably age in place. The
initiative would create significant work opportunities for our state’s construction, architectural
and engineering sectors, which were hit extremely hard by the Great Recession and have
continued to struggle with historically high unemployment.

Need: Maine’s housing stock is among the oldest in the country, and is poorly matched with our
needs: it is too unaffordable, too inaccessible, too inefficient and too remote from the services
and resources our seniors need to thrive in their communities. Thousands of Maine seniors are
currently on waitlists for affordable housing. At Creekside, there are 140 seniors waiting for

2) Increase Property Tax Relief

Solution: Increase the maximum refund for seniors under the Property Tax Fairness Credit.

Need: Seniors living on a fixed income are struggling to keep pace with rising property taxes. In
2013, Governor Paul LePage proposed to completely eliminate the Circuit Breaker Program
which provided targeted property tax relief to middle and low income Maine people. In a
compromise bi-partisan biennial budget, the legislature rejected the Governor’s proposal, but
made dramatic changes to the program that led to a significant decline in the relief provided
through the program. This past session, legislation sponsored by the Speaker significantly
strengthened the new Property Tax Fairness Credit by increasing the maximum refund for both
seniors and families. While the legislature was able to improve the program dramatically this
past session, the
maximum benefit level must be increased to help struggling Mainers to afford to stay in their

3) Strengthen the Direct Care Workforce:

Solution: The initiative will boost Medicaid reimbursement rates for direct care workers for the
first time in nearly a decade. The personal support services provided by these workers are critical
to helping Maine seniors maintain independence. In addition, supporting seniors to access
personal support services is a wise investment for the state. Providing these services to seniors in
their homes prevents unnecessary emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and
institutionalization in nursing facilities. It also puts more money in the pockets of working
people who have not seen a wage increase in nearly a decade.

Need: Due to low wages and few advancement opportunities, home care agencies are struggling
to recruit and maintain a qualified workforce that can meet the current demand. Direct care
workers have not seen an increase in wages for nearly a decade. Currently, direct care workers
are earning as little as $9 per hour. Direct Care Agencies currently have wait lists of at least 100
hours per week for services and the current wait time for personal support services ranges from
at least 4 to 8 weeks. Meanwhile, the demand for services is expected to grow with the state’s
rapidly aging population. Unless we take action now to invest in the direct-care workforce, there
is no doubt the state of Maine will face a caregiving crisis that could jeopardize the quality of life
for Maine seniors who need support with daily activities.


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