What Are Affordable Housing Options for Low-Income Seniors?



Everyone needs to live somewhere, and it seems housing is in abundance. [1] However, housing prices have been drastically increasing due to this demand over the past five years. Seniors, most of whom live on a fixed budget, seem to struggle to find the right housing option. As seniors get older, they have to manage their money more tightly, making them have fewer housing choices. That being said, many housing options and subsidies are affordable for low-income seniors.

Housing comes in different forms aside from traditional options and can be funded from multiple sources. Do additional research online to find local programs and those programs’ qualification requirements.

City and State Public Housing

In the United States, public housing is not available through the federal government; instead, it is offered by state and local governments. However, public housing developments are managed under the guise of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). [2] 970,000 households live in public housing, and low-income senior citizens run a growing majority of these households.

Your public housing options may differ significantly depending on where you are looking to live. Some public housing options are studio apartments in large urban cities, while others are tiny single-floor homes in quiet rural towns. Public housing is an excellent option for seniors, and public housing agencies often take initiatives to give seniors more public housing. However, here are some other factors that are considered when qualifying for public housing:

  • Do you have a disability?
  • Do you like with anyone else? Are they also retired?
  • Are you a veteran?
  • Do you go above the income threshold for our housing units?

[3] Reach out to your local public housing agencies to get more information about local options.

Cooperative Housing

[4] Cooperative housing has actually existed in the United States for over 100 years. However, co-ops targeted toward seniors are a relatively modern concept that has recently taken a foothold in the baby boomer community. Most people living in co-ops are in urban areas, especially New York City. The majority of newly built or designated co-ops outside NYC are affordable housing.

Co-ops are an excellent option for seniors. They often have common areas where communities can form and people can gather. Units in co-ops typically grow in value, so you can turn a small profit if you move out and are not renting your unit. You also save money because you share your amenity bill collectively with the rest of the units in your building.

Virtual Retirement Communities

Contrary to what you may initially gather from the name, you don’t have to be computer savvy to be a part of a virtual retirement community. [5] Virtual retirement communities are not a type of housing but are groups seniors are a part of that gives them access to various services. Think of it like a membership group or club that you pay into monthly or annually to get benefits.

Virtual retirement communities offer members access to transportation, home repair services, pet care, house cleaning, and pet care. These communities also host frequent social gatherings and preferred vendor lists. Virtual retirement communities can cost between $125 and $500 annually, depending on their services.

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development funds many different housing endeavors for people of all demographic backgrounds. However, housing choice vouchers are very popular amongst low-income seniors. Housing vouchers cover the difference between how much you can pay for housing and the actual cost of housing.

[6] Those looking to qualify for housing vouchers need to have an income of less than 50% of the local median income. Local areas are mandated to have at least 75% of their voucher recipients earn less than 30% of the median amount. If you meet those requirements, you are put on a waitlist through your local housing agency, which decides how much you can pay.

Housing vouchers are covered under Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1978. [7] Section 8 currently supplements housing rental payments for over 1.4 million low-income Americans.

Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly

The HUD also offers housing for seniors, especially those with disabilities, under Section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959. Section 202 and Section 811, the Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, give funding to nonprofit organizations that provide accommodations and safe living environments for elderly Americans. [8] The funds allocated to these nonprofits are then funneled into services and housing for older adults with special conditions or those unable to find alternative housing arrangements due to the amount of money they make.

Section 202 is a historic and positive progressive initiative within the United States. [9] This program has been discussed in the news recently because the HUD changed its qualification requirements to cut down on discriminatory practices. [10] Multiple funding bills have been sent to Congress to add extra funding.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funds housing companies building or developing new apartment complexes and rental properties for low-income renters. [11] [12] Over $8 billion is given annually to new developments, and this program has developed over 2,000,000 units since 1986.

Housing options built under the LIHTC are frequently available through Section 8 and public housing. [12] In fact, all projects must contain a given amount of low-income households for 40 years.

Start Your Search for Affordable Housing Online

Many other housing options can be affordable as long as you buy or rent at the right time. However, the choices listed above are designed for low-income seniors. To get a better idea of what is available around you, contact your local public housing office or search online.


[1] https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/mortgages/6-reasons-why-home-prices-will-keep-going-up-and-what-buyers-can-do-about-it/

[2] https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance/phprog

[3] https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/pha/contacts

[4] https://www.housinginternational.coop/co-ops/united-states-of-america/

[5] https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/the-rise-of-virtual-retirement-villages

[6] https://www.hud.gov/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8

[7] https://www.hud.gov/programdescription/cert8

[8] https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/mfh/progdesc/eld202

[9] https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/hud_no_22_074

[10] https://leadingage.org/legislation/new-senate-bill-25b-hud%E2%80%99s-section-202-program

[11] https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/lihtc.html

[12] https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-low-income-housing-tax-credit-and-how-does-it-work

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