The Three Best Ways to Find Income Based Apartments for Seniors

Finding affordable housing for seniors can often be a difficult task, especially when financial resources are limited. One possible avenue to check into in these situations is income-based apartments for seniors that consider tenants’ income when determining the amount of the monthly rent the tenant will be charged. There are three potential resources that can provide help in locating available income-based apartments for seniors, in cities and small towns alike.

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Local Non-Profit Organizations

One potential source for leads on income-based apartments for seniors is any local organization focused on providing support services to citizens who have reached retirement age. Local councils on aging as well as watchdog agencies that specialize in protecting the rights of seniors often maintain listings of housing that will likely be in line with the senior’s income level, and provide discounts based on that level of income.

These organizations may operate on a citywide level, although it is not unusual for them to cover an area as large as a country or parish. Best of all, these lists are often qualified, meaning that the organization has taken steps to verify that the apartments do meet basic standards. Organizations such as the Volunteers of America is one example of a local and nationwide group that helps connect people to affordable housing.

Religious organizations provide services to low-income and elderly people many parishes own properties to help provide housing. Depending on your faith, you can search for local religious organizations and see their websites or call them to find out if they know of any low-income housing you could qualify for. Catholic Charities, a nationwide social services organization, has made affordable housing possible for people across the country with over 35,000 buildings dedicated to income-based rentals.

Most religious groups serve one area exclusively. These groups tend to be a great point of contact when you’re looking for local resources, as they partner with other charitable organizations. 

City and County Agencies

Along with non-profit organizations, agencies that are directly operated by the local jurisdiction are also likely to have a list of income-based housing options for seniors. Obtaining the listings can sometimes require making a formal request and may also require meeting certain criteria in terms of income levels and any special health needs. Those qualifications help the agencies to narrow the selection to income-based apartments that are equipped with ramps or other amenities that would allow senior tenants to enjoy a measure of independence.

When applying for housing assistance, speak with your case manager about what type of needs you have and they will help you with the necessary documents needed to bring to the property owner. These upgrades can include things like stair railings, wheelchair ramps, or bars in the bathroom and hallways to hold while walking. At this point in the process, tenants can also request to have a service animal in their home if the property owner usually doesn’t allow animals.

Some apartment buildings are already designed to maintain the highest standards for American Disability Act (ADA) compliance. Social services agencies are often equipped to help apartment owners upgrade their buildings in order to facilitate a resident with disabilities, as needed. Apartment owners can connect with case managers and apply to have certain upgrades done to their buildings, sometimes for no cost to the owner.

State Resources

In many states, income-based apartments for seniors may be managed under the auspices of a state department of housing or a similar agency. Apartment complexes of this type may be directly owned and operated by the state, or be the property of a business that has agreed to provide housing for seniors based on income levels. The complexes may be new construction or include hospitals and other facilities that have been remodeled to create viable housing options. 

Formal applications are usually required in order to be considered for one of these income-based apartments, with the owner conducting background checks for each prospective tenant. If the goal is to secure income-based housing in an assisted care apartment complex, that request should also be provided to the agency in advance. 

Along with basic financial and other information, there is a good chance that the application will also include the opportunity to provide data on any special health needs that the prospective tenant may have, such as the need for wheelchair-friendly facilities with wider doors and lower cabinet tops. Depending on the degree of demand in the area, it may be necessary to be placed on a waiting list until a unit becomes available. 

Depending on your financial situation, there may be programs available in your area such as the Section 8 Housing Voucher, which allows participants to choose from apartments that are HUD-certified and accept rental assistance. This voucher pays rent based on participants’ income, with the tenant being responsible for paying a portion determined by their case manager. 

The goal is to find the right housing situation for the senior tenant. Doing so will mean spending some time and effort in visiting possible options and making decisions based on factors such as the proximity to loved ones, general conditions of the neighborhood, and the specific health needs of the loved one. 

By making it a point to make use of every available resource to find the right type of housing at the right price, the chances of finding an income-based apartment that the resident will enjoy are greatly enhanced. You can search for various government housing programs at USA.gov to see exactly what programs are in your area. 

An Alternative Option: Search The Local Market Yourself

Many leasing agents advertise their low-income properties independently of any non-profit or government organization. The best way to find these apartments is to simply search in your local areas real estate listings. Using your computer or visiting the library can easily net a list of phone numbers for you to call and check for apartment availability.

Sites like Craigslist.com have sections dedicated to housing where local agents can list their low-income properties, using keywords to help you find what you need. Using the search field, look for low-income apartments in your city, as well as surrounding cities. You can expand the search radius to help find options that might be slightly outside of your intended area if you’re able to be flexible. 

Other sites, such as publichousing.com and rentlingo.com help you search an area specifically for low-income housing. These sites have easy-to-search databases that show you the contact info for all low-income apartments in the area, including those for seniors. By searching all of the rental databases, you have a better chance of getting plenty of numbers to call and find income-based housing.

Consider Retiring in a Retirement Village

When moving into a low-income apartment isn’t easy in your preferred area, look for other types of senior housing. Many seniors find alternative lifestyles to be very fulfilling, keeping them close to like-minded seniors and allowing more freedom in choosing their surroundings. Options like tiny homes and mobile home parks are one example of a virtual retirement community, where people in the same age group live independently in their own homes and work together to fulfill the community needs and amenities that they want to enjoy.

Mobile home parks are a popular option among retirees for many reasons. First of all, these homes are manufactured factory-style and are much more affordable than a traditional house. In September of 2019, the average cost of a traditional home was $362,700, while mobile homes sold for an average of $84,400 during that same period. Owners of these homes are allowed full autonomy and people often build onto their trailers as they see fit, and can sometimes even have amenities like a hot tub and pool placed directly in their yard. 

Another feature that attracts seniors to mobile home retirement villages is the age restrictions. Many of these parks are designed specifically for seniors and have boundaries on the age a person must be before purchasing a trailer in the park. Some parks are family-friendly and allow elders who have grandchildren that want to stay over or who are foster parents, but many communities restrict children from playing in the area. This is to respect those that don’t want to be disturbed and have early sleeping hours. This may be a drawback for some elders, so be sure that if you want to have your grandchildren over, your chosen community will allow it.

The lots these homes reside on belong to the mobile home park, so a monthly rental fee must be made to the landowner. While a mobile home is smaller and usually valued far below a traditional house, property taxes are still required in most areas, so be sure to check with your real estate broker to see what you can expect to pay in taxes before deciding on any particular home.

Financial Resources for Seniors

After retiring, many seniors face financial sparsity as they age. While it is important to save for retirement, often our best efforts still don’t guarantee a steady income that will support us once we hit retirement age. Bills for basic needs such as food, medical care, and housing continue to stack up even after we find ourselves unable to work as hard. 

Those who worked for one company or contributed to a retirement plan during their career can often cash in their pensions and retirement accounts once they hit age 65. If those options aren’t available and you need financial assistance paying for medical care and other necessities, there may be state, federal, or non-profit funds available in your area for low-income elders.

VA Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers medical and financial benefits to veterans who have served in a foreign war. The Veterans pension fund provides supplemental income to qualified veterans and their surviving family members. To receive assistance, qualifying veterans must be over age 65 or disabled, already receive Social Security payments, or live in a nursing home. 

Those that are in need of assistance with their activities of daily living (ADLs) may qualify for additional payments. The Aid and Attendance program provides eligible veterans with money to pay for care received in their homes or in a nursing home. Housebound elders and those with extremely limited vision may also qualify for an additional monthly payment under the Aid and Attendance program. These payments are for veterans who do not have excessive income, and are subject to stricter guidelines.  

Medicaid and Medicare

Low-income elders may qualify for Medicaid, which can go by a different name depending on your area. This state-run program offers financial reimbursement for necessary care costs incurred by qualified elders, such as the cost of prescriptions and doctor visits. 7.2 million seniors on Medicaid also qualify for health insurance through Medicare.

  • Medicare Part A covers the cost of hospitalizations.
  • Part B pays for physicians as well as durable medical equipment (DME) like wheelchairs, as well as the cost of in-office procedures like x-rays.
  • Part C Medicare gives elders the chance to choose their own HMO or PPO through the Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans often groups services to provide savings as well as discounts on prescriptions and a wider range of providers.
  • Part D Medicare plans help pay for prescriptions.

Medicaid and Medicare in no way help seniors pay for housing, but are a valuable resource that can make it easier for older adults to afford other expenses. 

Long-Term Care Insurance

Seniors who want to save specifically for a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other retirement community can pay into long-term care (LTC) insurance to help cover the cost. This type of insurance is available on the public market. There is a helpful guide provided by the US Administration on Aging to help you determine your LTC insurance needs. If you want to find out the plans available and how they work, check Genworth’s Long Term Care Insurance Calculator. Depending on your age, financial position, and care needs, your LTC insurance plan and its cost will vary greatly. 

State and Federal Financial Resources

Low-income or disabled seniors may qualify for medical and financial help, depending on where they live and other factors. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find help applying for financial assistance programs including Medicaid and Medicare. You can also visit Socialsecurity.gov to apply online for retirement benefits.

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