By Mayor Martin Walsh
Here in Boston, we are committed to making our city a place where everyone can succeed—of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. This is our guiding principle as we plan and build the future of our city. That’s why an essential goal of our citywide plan is to make sure the seniors who built our city can continue to thrive here. And it’s why I announced in my State of the City address last month that we are building a plan to make Boston the most age-friendly city in America.
Seniors make up the fastest-growing sector of our city’s population. More than 14 percent of our population is above the age of 60. That number is expected to grow to 20 percent by 2030. We’re thrilled so many seniors regard our city as a place where they can live and thrive.
That’s why one of my first actions as mayor was signing up Boston for the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age Friendly Communities through AARP. And with the help of the University of Massachusetts-Boston Gerontology Institute, we listened and surveyed thousands of older adults in every neighborhood. This year, we will be analyzing all the data and we will use it to develop our plan to make Boston the most age-friendly city in America.
We want our seniors to know, right now, that their City government is here to support them. Many City departments offer programs, services, and discounts specifically for senior residents. Our Commission on Affairs of the Elderly is a great go-to resource for advice on Medicare, referrals, benefits, services, volunteer opportunities, and more.
Our Senior Shuttle is available for non-emergency rides to medical appointments within the City of Boston. Taxi coupons can also be purchased monthly and used with seven different authorized taxicab companies operating in Boston.
For homeowners, we offer many helpful programs. The Assessing department offers a residential exemption and personal exemptions to taxpayers who meet the qualifications. The Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center offers tax deferral for homeowners 65 or older whose current expenses make the continued ownership of their home difficult.
Adults who qualify can also work off up to $1000 of their property taxes by volunteering their time in a City department. In addition, the Department of Neighborhood Development has programs out of their Home Center to help Boston residents improve and keep their homes.
The Seniors Save program can help income-eligible older adults replace failing or inefficient heating systems. The Senior Home Repair program offers 0 percent interest-deferred loans for a variety of emergency home repairs. The Home Retention Program offers advice for those struggling to pay their mortgage or taxes, to help them keep their home.
We have also asked our departments and utility companies to offer discounts to seniors to cover essential services. The Boston Water and Sewer Commission offers some homeowners a 30 percent discount off the water portion of their bill. Comcast now offers a 10 percent discount on both Basic and Digital Starter Cable TV, and an Internet Essentials high-speed service for $9.59 for new subscribers who are income eligible.
All these programs and services are available today. I encourage older residents to check them out and to share this information with family and friends. Please find the appropriate phone numbers below, or learn more at cityofboston.gov. And please don’t hesitate to reach out. The more we learn from you, the better we can serve all our seniors, and the sooner we can reach our goal of being America’s most age-friendly city.
Senior Shuttle (617-635-3000), Commission on Affairs of the Elderly (617-635-4366), Assessing Department (617-635-4264), Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center (617-635-4287), Property Tax Work-Off Program (617-635-4366), Boston Water and Sewer Commission (617-989-7800), The Home Center (617-635-4663), Comcast Cable Discount (1-800-934-6489), Internet Essentials (1-855-804-8010).