Many older adults live on fixed incomes and rely on federal financial assistance programs for covering expenses.
Unfortunately, SSI and Social Security aren’t always enough to pay for living expenses, including housing. This forces many senior citizens to seek low-income senior housing to somehow make ends meet.
There are numerous options for low-income senior housing, available through the government and through the private market.
In this article, we will go through how to find low income senior housing, how to qualify and apply for the program, and the types of housing available to a low-income senior citizen.
What is Low Income Senior Housing?
A low-income senior housing unit is part of an apartment community offering rents and mortgages that are reasonably priced to low-income senior citizens.
This program allows seniors surviving on a low income to have enough money to spend on essential commodities and services like utility bills and groceries each month.
Generally, a senior citizen with chronic health issues or limited mobility may move to an assisted living facility where they’ll get daily medical aid and assistance.
But because assisted living is much expensive, there are various programs supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Let us take a look at the types of low-income senior housing options that are available.
Types of Affordable Senior Housing
There are various subsidized programs supported by the Housing and Urban Development board that provides affordable housing to low-income citizens. These are:
a. Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly
Older adults who are looking to live independently and need occasional assistance with some of their daily activities and chores can turn to section 202 as an option.
This program is typically meant for physically weaker seniors who need help with their daily activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation.
The HUD provides loans and finances to non-profit organizations, private organizations, and other properties so that they can facilitate seniors citizens with low income to get into affordable rental housing.
They also set up the amenities required for older residents through rent subsidies.
The amenities or features of these Section 202 housing programs are the following:
- Services such as housekeeping, meal delivery, referral services, counseling, medication, and transportation.
- You can typically find a one-bedroom apartment with a bathroom and a kitchen under the Section 202 program.
You must be 62 years or older with a very low household income, typically 50% of the area’s median income.
- You’ll also be considered if:
- You’re living in substandard housing
- Have been involuntarily displaced, or
- You are currently paying 50% of your income in rent.
How to Apply for Section 202
You can always get in touch with the that you’re interested in for more information and how to apply. Just keep in mind that you may be on a waiting list for at least a year, so it’s best to begin early.
b. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
This program is administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It constitutes investors and developers building, buying, and rehabbing rental housing units for low-income senior citizens. In exchange for this, the investors and developers get tax credits.
In exchange for these tax credits, a portion of the entire apartment is set aside for fixed-income or low-income tenants.
What are the Eligibility Requirements to Qualify for LIHTC?
Here are the set of eligibility requirements that LIHTC has put down. Most of them depend on the senior citizen’s age and income.
- Generally, an eligible senior citizen must have a minimum age ranging between 55+ and 62+.
- The residents must also have limited or fixed incomes of around 60% of the area’s median income.
- In some cases, the median income can be as high as 80% or as low as 30%.
- Keep in mind that you may still be eligible for LIHTC even if you own a home or have other assets.
According to the LIHTC requirements, you can choose to keep your home as an investment, the only caveat is that you cannot live there once you’re selected for LIHTC.
Types of LIHTC Housing
The housing types to expect in LIHTC communities are generally one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments that are specifically built for seniors.
A LIHTC community usually has community events meant for seniors, as well as common spaces and recreational facilities for seniors. Just be aware that you may need to bring or buy your own furniture as most of the subsidized housing in a LIHTC community will be unfurnished.
c. Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is commonly known as Section 8. It is another affordable senior housing program that’s managed at the state level to help not just senior citizens but also low-income families and disabled people.
Although these housings are privately owned, seniors may receive rental assistance. You need to qualify to receive housing vouchers for rent and utilities depending on your income.
You’ll ideally be paying 30% of your monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. You can utilize the voucher to pay all or most of the difference. You can also use these vouchers to invest in a home.
You can get more information on how to apply by contacting your local public housing agency.
The Section 8 housing units will be inspected to determine whether or not they meet the required standards of public housing agencies. Afterward, the report is then used to calculate the maximum amount of housing assistance that’s available to you.
Eligibility Criteria to Qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher Program
Qualification requirements for Section 8 Housing Vouchers are as follows:
- You need to be at least 62 years old and satisfy several other specifications which include:
- You must pass a background screening for income eligibility assessment, asset estimate, and family compositions. Keep in mind that a huge part of your assets may be included as part of your annual income.
- The next hurdle is a screening by a public housing agency. The agency will verify your eligibility based on your assets, family income, family composition, employer, and bank information.
The crux is that you cannot exceed HUD’s income limits. This means that your yearly annual net income must be 50% or be less than the median income of your area. You should note that this rea median income may vary from place to place.
If the public housing agency deems you eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers, you would be given the required assistance immediately or placed on a waiting list depending on your situation.
As the last step, to apply for these vouchers, you can contact your local public housing agency but be prepared to submit all the required information.
d. Public Housing
These are generally high-rises or apartment complexes that are overseen by a county or city public housing agency. This is yet another affordable housing option that is meant to cater to low-income seniors and their families.
- You need to be a low-income senior to qualify
- Eligible seniors will be considered for this program on the condition that you will be able to pay about 30% of your income for the rent, utilities, and other housing expenses.
e. Private Housing
If you are looking for an affordable private apartment, the HUD program can also help low-income senior citizens get private apartments that offer subsidized rents.
You still have to meet the eligibility requirements, but unlike public housing, you can apply for private housing directly at the apartment’s management. You may then go to the waiting list. You can search for an apartment here and you’ll be good to go.
Note: If you are considering private housing, know that the demand for subsidized public and private housing is high and in the majority of cases, the applicant is placed on the waiting list.
This does depend on your situation and the location of the apartment. For instance, you may have an upper hand if you choose to live in a unit that’s considered substandard, if you agree to pay over half of your income rent or if you’re involuntarily displaced.
How to Find Low-Income Senior Housing
Do you know that every affordable senior housing is not necessarily government-subsidized housing labeled as low income?
The first step in finding senior housing that fits your budget is to assess the current rental market.
And by taking stock of the rental market, we mean that you consider what your monthly budget is, your location requirements, and what kind of housing amenities you want. If you’re willing to downsize, consider how many bedrooms you actually need.
For low-income senior housing units, you can check various sites such as ForRent.com for affordable apartments.
The best place to start is by contacting your local public housing agency or HUD office. The office will advise you and direct you on the application process. You can also search through a state-by-state senior living directory using your zip code.
We hope that the information provided in this article has been helpful to you while considering affordable housing options. Do get in touch with us if you have any suggestions in the comments below!