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Housing Assistance For The Elderly - Part 2

Other Government Programs
The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), a reverse mortgage program of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), is a special type of home loan available to borrowers age 62 or older. This option is particularly attractive to seniors who own a house but need cash to meet unexpected medical costs, pay for house maintenance or repairs, and cover basic living expenses. HECM allows you to convert the equity in your home into cash and does not require repayments while the borrower continues to live in the house. Equity that you built up over years of making mortgage payments can be paid to you as tenure (equal monthly payments), term (equal monthly payments for a fixed period), lines of credit, modified tenure, or modified term. Interest accrues on the principal, and the entire loan is repaid after the borrower sells, moves, or dies.

To be eligible for an HECM you must be 62 years of age or older, own your home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at closing with proceeds from the reverse loan. You will need to have the financial resources to pay ongoing property charges including taxes and insurance, and you must live in the home.

USDA Affordable Rural Housing is provided by the Rural Development (RD) arm of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The agency runs several rental programs and homeownership programs through its Rural Housing and Community Facilities Service. USDA makes direct loans to developers of rental units for low-income elderly persons and families through the Section 515 Multi-Family Rural Rental Housing Program.

Owners of homes financed under Section 515 can use rental assistance payments from the Rural Housing Service (RHS) to enable eligible tenants to make monthly rent payments that do not exceed 30% of monthly adjusted family income, 10% of monthly income, or welfare rent payment designated for housing costs.

In operation since the 1960s, this program provides essential, decent homes for the lowest income rural residents, among whom are some of America’s most vulnerable residents: elderly persons, people with disabilities, and mothers with young children. Elderly people or people with disabilities head more than half of the assisted households.

These are some programs most accessible to the elderly. There could be others out there since not all low-cost options for seniors are national in scope. Some local programs are applicable only in specific areas, and there may be private organizations with suitable programs. The HUD has assembled a list of approved counseling agencies that can provide information about local and non-profit, as well as government programs. This list is organized by state and includes agencies prepared to assist with rental assistance, home purchases, refinancing options, and others. Click here to review the list.

Looking into options for senior housing is best done sooner, not later. There are more Americans age 65 and older today than at any other time in U.S. history. By 2060, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double to over 98 million and will comprise about 25% of the population.[1] A vast number of these seniors will need affordable living options especially when they are no longer employed. While some continue to work full-time or part-time, incomes of seniors drop as they put in fewer hours or need to slow down due to medical conditions. They require help as they face limited incomes, less mobility, and increased expenses related to their health care.

The time to make decisions about senior housing could still be years after your retirement. The more thought you put into the possible choices, the more confident you can be that you will be able to make the right decision for you and your loved ones when it is time to do so.

Contact details:

To locate a local PHA, click here or call 1-800-955-2232.

For more information about public housing, click here.

To apply for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, contact an HECM counselor or call (800) 569-4287.

For a listing of regional HUD offices, click here.

For more information on USDA Rural Housing Programs, contact:

Housing Assistance Council, 202-842-8600,

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development,