How to Find Affordable Senior Housing

Reviewed: September 14, 2015
By FinanceWeb

Affordable housing is a vital part of the national housing policy. It recognizes the importance of having a safe place to live and that the private real estate markets do not consistently provide cost-effective options. One can define affordable housing as residences that cost thirty percent or less of the household income. This figure reflects the need to pay for other necessities including transportation, food, utilities, and clothing. Over the course of recent decades, housing prices have grown at higher rates than incomes. One telling statistic is that there are no areas in the US in which a single minimum wage salary can pay for standard two bedroom apartment.

Meeting the Needs of Seniors

The US has an aging population, more than twenty percent will be aged 65 or older by 2030. Affordable Senior Housing focuses on a group characterized by fixed incomes, and incomes indexed to national economic conditions such as inflation. It is a population that is vulnerable to affordable housing shortages. Senior citizens need safe and structurally appropriate housing. These needs include fewer barriers, access to healthcare, shopping, and local transportation. Some require assisted living facilities that offer a menu of services to aid those with limitations. Assisted living is a fast-growing segment of the senior housing market.

The State of Affordable Housing

Market conditions usually determine housing prices, and this includes areas with chronic shortages. The effects of supply and demand can raise prices steeply and quickly. In the US, more than 12 million households pay more than fifty percent of their household income for housing. These areas are the prime markets for state and federal affordable housing programs. When adding age as a factor, there are approximately 19 million low-income households led by a person aged 50 or more. Low-income seniors live in inadequate housing and pay more than they can reasonably afford. They pay far more than thirty percent of their household income, and the available housing fails to meet physical needs for safety and convenience. Some must choose between paying their mortgage or rent and necessities like food or medicines.

Federal and State Actions

The federal government directly and through state agencies provides incentives and costs assistance to providers of affordable housing. These include community-based organizations that build, rehab, or otherwise make new housing available. The major programs include HOME grants, Self Help Home Opportunity Program(or SHOP), and the Housing Trust Fund. These programs provide monies and resources including training and promoting local sponsorships.

Promoting Senior Housing

Affordable housing answers the issue of price and housing when the private markets do not provide adequate choices and sufficient quantities to meet community needs. Many states and local governments offer subsidies to assist seniors find rental housing in their areas. Affordable Senior Housing options include government voucher programs to cover the excess costs of housing above thirty percent of household income. These programs are available for elderly and elderly disabled households. In some jurisdictions, housing vouchers permit a senior household to live with relatives in a family arrangement.

How to Find Affordable Housing for Seniors

The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides grants to local groups for home rehab, construction, and repair. These programs then convert projects into homes for qualified residents including older residents. HUD has qualified housing counselors to discuss local programs and direct applicants to local resources. Many cities maintain public information and directories of subsidized, senior, and affordable housing. Online search is a popular method for identifying local affordable housing for seniors.