The Suffolk County Legislature has approved a bill that would expand tax foreclosure hardship exemptions to include people caring for ill grandchildren.

Lawmakers unanimously passed the bill during Tuesday’s general meeting.

Currently, people who have had properties foreclosed because of unpaid taxes can submit a redemption application within six months. Hardship exemptions that extend the time frame for redemption are only available for those dealing with the illness of a spouse, parent or child living with them.

Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) sponsored the measure to qualify grandparents after hearing from a constituent who fell behind in property tax payments because of a chronically ill grandchild.

“If it was a mother, there would have been no problem redeeming the property,” Browning said. “But because she was a grandmother, she didn’t meet the criteria. It wasn’t right.”

She added that grandparents caring for their children’s families are more common today, meaning the situation is likely to come up again.

“We are in dire economic times, which is causing multiple generations of families to live under the same roof in order to survive,” she said. “The situation has forced families to choose between keeping their home and saving an ill family member.”

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