Being a low-income senior is far more common than most people realize. According to the National Council on Aging, more than 25 million Americans over the age of 60 are living in poverty. This means these seniors have an annual income that is at or below the federal poverty level. This equates to $29,425 a year for one person, which is $2,452 a month or $81 a day.
Let’s take a look at the most popular form of income for seniors—Social Security. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that 97 percent of seniors will or do receive Social Security. In addition, 43 percent of seniors living alone depend on Social Security for their total income, along with 21 percent of married couples.
So how much do seniors get in Social Security each month? According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefit in 2017 for retired seniors was $1,369 or $16,428. That is half of the amount that low-income seniors earn a year. That means nearly half of all single seniors are likely living in poverty along with almost a quarter of married seniors. These seniors do not have the money to be able to afford food, clothing, transportation, and most importantly—housing.
If you are one of the millions of seniors who are struggling to afford the cost of housing, consider HUD low-income senior housing. Find out the different types of low-income housing programs provided by the US government. Learn how to apply for low-income housing services near you.
The US Department of Urban Development or HUD is responsible for providing and maintaining low-income senior housing throughout the US. On a city and state level, this type of housing is provided by public housing agency offices. These agencies receive applications for senior housing programs. They will help you figure out the type of low-income housing that is available to you based on several factors. These factors include:
Keep in mind you will need to prove each of these aspects of your household. In addition, if there are other people living with you, such as a spouse or extended family, they will also be included in these variables when you apply.
The US government and HUD offer several housing programs for low-income individuals and families. Not all programs are available to seniors. The types of programs for seniors include:
In the Housing Choice Voucher program, there are two ways you can receive housing.
Either way, with this program you are responsible for finding your own housing. HUD-approved senior housing is available throughout the US in towns and cities. To find out if housing, such as apartments or townhomes, accepts the Housing Choice Voucher, you will need to contact the building manager. They can tell you if they accept HUD Housing Choice Vouchers.
Public housing or Section 8 is a low-income housing complex that is managed by the HUD. This type of housing is available only to low-income applicants including families, seniors, and those with a disability.
If you are a senior, you are most likely going to be placed in a senior low-income Section 8 apartment. However, only 80 percent of the residents at senior apartments in Section 8 must be 50 and over. That means 20 percent of the residents will be younger adults and/or children.
Whether you are given affordable rental housing through the Housing Choice Voucher program or via Section 8, you will most likely have to pay some for your rent. The way this works is the public housing agency sets a rate for either your voucher or the housing unit itself. Then you are responsible for paying the remainder that is not covered by the public housing agency. Keep in mind, this amount will never be more than 30 percent of your adjusted monthly income.
There are three main categories you must be in for eligibility for HUD senior housing:
You will need to meet the age and income requirements in order to apply for HUD senior housing. If you are also disabled, this will increase your eligibility to find low-income senior housing.
When you are applying for low-income senior housing, your household income will be the primary factor in deciding if you get assistance. You will need to provide your annual gross income along with bank statements, Social Security benefits statements, federal tax returns, etc., to prove your income.
In general, if your income is less than 80 to 50 percent of the median income in your county or city, then you will meet the low-income requirements. Some cities require you to meet the 80 percent guideline, while other cities that have less low-income housing available may restrict the income level to 50 percent of the median income.
For an example of what this looks like, let’s take the average Social Security income received by seniors in 2017— $1,369 a month:
For example, if you live in Autauga County, Alabama:
That means if you live in Autauga County in Alabama and earn less than $33,450 for an adjusted income, you will most likely be eligible for low-income housing in that county. Use the tool to find the amount of your county and state low-income limits.
No, HUD senior housing does not include assisted living services. When you apply for low-income housing services, you are only receiving assistance with paying your rent. This does not include payment for food and medical care.
In public housing or project housing, some of your utilities will be included in your low-income assistance. However, this is only available in cities that offer a specialized program to help low-income residents receive reduced rates for utilities.
As for assisted living services, if you need help paying for these, consider the Assisted Living Conversion Program or ALCP. This program helps seniors age in place, which means they are allowed to live in HUD senior apartments while receiving medical assistance. At the time, HUD is only providing the ALCP in a select number of states including:
If you are a resident of one of these states, you can inquire about the ALCP through your public housing agency.
The first step in the process is to contact your local public housing agency. They will provide you with information about submitting your application. In addition to the application, you will be required to provide documentation to prove your income and household size. You need to submit everything required so your application is processed successfully.
Once approved, the public housing agency will give you an award letter stating the type of low-income housing you are eligible to receive. You will also get instructions on what to do next as far as moving into or choosing your new home.
HUD low-income housing is in high demand around the country, mainly because housing facilities are not constructed fast enough to accommodate the need. That means you will most likely be put on a waiting list.
While on the waiting list, make sure your contact information is up to date with the public housing agency. They will contact you with details regarding when your number is up on the waiting list. You need to respond as soon as possible to remain applicable.
There are certain ways you can move up on the waitlist more quickly. If you are currently living in an unsafe or unsanitary home, then you are placed at the top of the waitlist. If you are homeless you are also placed at the top of the list.
You can stay in low-income housing for seniors for as long as you meet the guidelines of your lease. Most applicable is your income. If your income increases, or decreases, you are required to report this information to your public housing agency immediately.