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Housing Assistance For The Elderly

Elderly Americans face serious housing challenges, including high costs, fixed incomes, and access issues that develop as physical capacities diminish. Some programs can help the elderly, especially those with low incomes, find safe, affordable homes.



Many elderly Americans struggle to find appropriate and affordable places to live. Many senior citizens have limited mobility and have to find accessible places to live. Many also live on limited incomes. Over 25 million Americans over 60 face economic insecurity and large numbers depend exclusively on Social Security for their income.[1] Many seniors find housing decisions emotional and even confusing, as they balance the desire to stay in familiar homes and neighborhoods, the desire to stay close to family and friends, and the sometimes-harsh requirements of access and affordability. Fortunately, help is available for those who need and seek it.

Careful preparation is necessary to fully understand the choices and make good use of the resources available. Several things have to be taken into consideration when the time comes to make decisions about senior care, and senior living arrangements, so make time to discuss long-term needs and level of care required. Whether you are planning for yourself or an older loved one, the goals are dignity, security, and comfort among changing needs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers programs that help low-income families to find quality, affordable homes for the elderly. The HUD funds programs for rent assistance, home ownership, and supportive services for seniors and the disabled.

To qualify for these programs, the HUD sets income limits that are common to all its programs: eligible households must have at least one family member 62 years or older and meet HUD's income limits for low income or very low-income families. For low income, this means the individual or family net should not exceed 80 % of the geographic area’s median and for very low income, 50% of the area’s median. This limit varies depending on the state or county. For example, in West Virginia, a single person's income would have to be $19,241 or less to qualify, but in Minnesota, an individual could qualify with an income of up to $30,907.[2] Your local Public Housing Authority (PHA) can provide the income limits for your area.

The HUD offers three types of affordable rent programs: voucher housing programs, public housing, and multifamily subsidized housing.

Housing Choice Vouchers Programs (HCVP), previously known as Section 8 housing, place the choice of a home in the hands of the individual or family. The program provides rent vouchers to low-income individuals, families, the elderly and the disabled so that they can find homes in the private rental market. A local PHA advises voucher holders on the unit size for which they are eligible based on family size and composition. There are two types of vouchers: tenant-based and project-based. Tenant-based vouchers (TBVs) can be transferred should the renter move to another PHA location. Project-based vouchers (PBVs) are assigned to certain PHA units or buildings and are not transferable.

Voucher recipients can choose where they want to live as long as the property owner agrees to rent using the guidelines of the program. Housing options can include apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes.

Contact your local PHA to apply. You will need to provide documentation of income, assets, family members, and current rental status. Your birth certificate, tax records, and banking information will also be required. The PHA will verify the information you provide and will use these to determine program eligibility. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to provide evidence that you are a legal immigrant. Applicants must provide references, and HUD may schedule interviews to determine if the senior and other senior household members are good tenants who will not disrupt the other tenants.

If the PHA finds you or your family eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, unless the PHA can assist you immediately. The PHA will contact you when your name comes up and issue to you a voucher. Long waiting periods are common since the demand for assistance exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local agencies.

Homeownership Vouchers serve first-time homebuyers who need help meeting their monthly mortgage payment, and other expenses. These expenses include mortgage principal and interest, mortgage insurance, real estate taxes, and homeowner’s insurance among others.

Eligibility Requirements
First-time homeowner.

HUD income requirements apply for elderly or disabled individuals or their families.

No family member has owned or had ownership interest in their residence for at least three years.

Contact your local PHA for assistance. Not all PHAs offer this program.
Public Housing provides decent and safe rental units for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Through funding administered by HUD, local PHAs own and operate buildings for low-income families, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. Public housing consists of government-funded and-constructed units that range from single-family houses to high-rise apartments.

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals including the elderly and those with disabilities. PHA determines eligibility based on 1) annual gross income, 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family, and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the PHA will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. The rental amount, referred to as Total Tenant Payment (TTP) is computed as cited above.

Options include single-family homes, duplexes, multi-unit flats, or high-rise apartments.

The Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, also known as Multifamily Subsidized Housing, helps property owners who are willing to offer reduced rents to low-income elderly tenants. It provides assistance to seniors by providing interest-free capital advances to private non-profit organizations to finance the construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of structures that will serve as homes for very low-income elderly persons, including the frail elderly. To help make these units affordable, HUD also provides rent subsidies for the projects to cover the difference between the HUD-approved operating cost for the project and the tenants' contribution towards rent. Thus, elderly citizens only pay 30 % of their income as rent.

Through this program, private nonprofit and service-oriented organizations use capital advances from the government to build or rehabilitate structures that provide the very low-income elderly with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that provides support activities such as cleaning, cooking, transportation, and others.

Other similar programs under this category are as follows and are available only in some PHAs: Congregate Housing Services Program, Multifamily Rental Housing for Moderate-Income Families, and Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program.

The program benefits very low-income residents age 62 years or older at the time of occupancy who meet HUD's income limits for very-low income families. Usually, these are one-bedroom apartments with kitchen and bath, and special features such as ramps, grab bars, nonskid flooring, among others. Other features include housekeeping, transportation to health care and in some areas, home-delivered meals.