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Government Housing Assistance For Seniors

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

The U.S. Department of Home and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored the 2003 American Housing Survey, which found that nearly one-third of senior households — those whose head was age 62 or older — were having issues with housing affordability. Additionally, a legislative investigation found in 2002 that despite the predicted rise in the older population, investment in affordable housing is declining.

To combat this issue, 23 federal housing programs have been implemented to provide government housing for seniors. Specifically, one HUD and one USDA program offer housing for seniors exclusively, while three HUD programs target the elderly and disabled. 

The remaining 18 programs cater to various household types but have features specifically designed for senior households — like income modifications that lower their rent.  About 943,000 housing units specifically allocated for older occupants are offered by the 13 programs. However, numerous programs also provide government-subsidized housing for seniors in undesignated units. 

As of April 2004, data on occupancy suggest that at least 1.3 million apartments funded by public, multifamily, and rental assistance programs were occupied by the elderly population.

If you are in need of a grant for housing, check out our article about free housing and apartment grants for senior citizens.

Federal Assistance Programs That Offer Government Housing Assistant For Seniors

Finding affordable housing is important for many seniors — and oftentimes difficult. Rent can end up taking up the lion's share of a senior’s meager retirement income. Luckily, there are a number of government housing assistance for seniors that can dramatically lower housing costs. 

Additionally, these various federal, state, and local housing programs can help seniors:

  • Find and afford their own place to live
  • Modify an existing home to suit their needs and demands
  • Help develop skills to live independently

Below is a list of the programs offered by the HUD for senior-assisted housing:

Housing Choice Voucher Program

Commonly known as Section 8, the housing choice voucher program is the main federal program for helping very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. 

Participants are allowed to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments, because housing support is provided on behalf of the family or individual. 

Furthermore, the recipient is not restricted to homes found in subsidized housing projects. Instead, they are free to select any housing that satisfies the program's conditions.  

The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the Public Housing Agency (PHA) can approve the unit. When a voucher holder finds a unit they want to inhabit and reaches an agreement on lease terms with the landlord, the PHA must inspect the home and assess if the rent requested is reasonable.

Under this program, landlords can only require 30% of the family or individual’s income as a full rent payment. 

Eligibility Requirements:

The PHA determines eligibility for a housing voucher based on the total annual gross income and family size. The program is also limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens with eligible immigration status. 

To qualify for the voucher program, your income must not exceed 50% of the median income in your local area (county or metropolitan area). This allows the program to function effectively in any location. Keep in mind that Section 8 is not contingent on age (i.e., it is not a senior-specific low-income program).

How to Apply: 

If you are interested in applying for a voucher, contact your local PHA. For further assistance, please contact the HUD Office nearest to you. 

Section 202 Supportive Housing For The Elderly Program 

The Section 202 Supportive Housing Program is specifically geared toward providing government subsidized housing for seniors aged 62 and older who meet the “very low income” criteria. The program helps in expanding the availability of senior-friendly, affordable homes. It gives older people on very low incomes alternatives that let them live freely in an environment that also offers support services like cleaning, cooking, transportation, etc. It’s the only government-subsidized affordable housing program exclusive to seniors. Section 202 currently funds over a quarter million senior living units. 

This government housing assistance for seniors program offers private, nonprofit sponsors interest-free financial capital to help finance the construction of senior-assisted housing. If the project continues to benefit older people with extremely little income for 40 years, the capital advance does not have to be repaid. Additionally, recipients are only required to pay 30% of their income for rent, with the HUD subsidy making up the rest of the balance. 

Funds for project rental assistance are provided to make up the difference between the project's operational costs, as approved by HUD, and the rent payments made by the tenants. Contracts for project rental assistance are originally granted for three years. They are then renewed depending on the availability of funding.

This housing option also offers combined independent and assisted living features. For instance, some Section 202 housing projects offer meals, transportation, and personalized assistance with activities of daily living (ADL); other developments may give free blood pressure checks and social events like movie nights. Section 202 housing will also be quieter than other types of subsidized housing, which is ideal for seniors who are sensitive to noise. 

Eligibility Requirements:

To qualify for this program, you must belong to any very low-income household comprised of at least one person at least 62 years old at the time of initial occupancy. 

How to Apply: 

For more information regarding the application process, visit Section 202 Program of the HUD.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program is an essential resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 established the Low LIHTC program, which grants state and local LIHTC-allocating organizations the equivalent of about $8 billion in annual budget authority to grant tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or construction of new rental housing geared toward helping lower-income households.

Over 2 million affordable rental units have been built or renovated with the LIHTC program assistance since the program's launch in the mid-1990s.

Basically, state and territorial governments are given tax credits by the federal government. The credits are then provided by state housing authorities to private developers of affordable rental housing projects through a competitive bidding process. 

In order to raise capital, developers typically sell the credits to private investors. Investors have a 10-year window to submit a claim for the LIHTC after the housing project is put into service or, to put it another way, made accessible to tenants.

Eligibility Requirements:

Apartment complexes, single-family homes, townhouses, and duplexes are just a few of the many rental property types that qualify for the LIHTC.

Owners or developers of projects receiving the LIHTC consent to comply with a gross rent test and an income test for renters. Three methods exist for passing the income test:

  1. At least 20% of the project’s units are occupied by tenants with an income of 50% or less of the area median income adjusted for family size (AMI).
  2. At least 40% of the units are occupied by tenants with an income of 60% or less of AMI.
  3. At least 40% of the units are occupied by tenants with income averaging no more than 60% of AMI, and no units are occupied by tenants with income greater than 80% of AMI.

The gross rent test mandates that rentals do not exceed 30% of either 50% or 60% of AMI, depending upon the share of tax credit rental units in the project. Additionally, for a period of 15 years, all LIHTC projects must meet the income and rent requirements. Otherwise, credits will be recaptured. A prolonged compliance time (totaling 30 years) is typically mandated.

How to Apply: 

A senior who meets the HUD income requirements may proceed to search around their neighborhood for homes that HUD has approved. Alternatively, they may search “income-based housing for seniors near me” to locate homes that offer the housing tax credit. 

The application process is straightforward. Applicants must submit the necessary documents to the apartment’s management company. Keep in mind that there is typically an open waiting list unless immediate availability applies. 

Step 1. Obtain The Application

After finding a LIHTC apartment in your area, select the green "Contact" button and either:

  • Select "Send a Message"
  • Call the listed phone number
  • If the application is online, the applicant must create a free account through an online portal and/or have a valid email address to submit their applications

Step 2. Complete The Application

The application will typically consist of many pages and require the following information: 

  • Household information (including name, gender, date of birth, and Social Security Number)
  • Previous housing history
  • Employment and income information

Step 3. Submit The Application

The application must be filed following the guidelines provided by the housing office, or it will be rejected.

If you have Social Security and is still having trouble finding housing, visit our article about housing for seniors on social security near me. The government doesn't only provide housing assistance, they also give free medical supplies for senior citizens too.

If you are interested in scholarships for kids with deceased parents, visit Gov Relations today and learn more. 

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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