It’s important to explore all living options for seniors before settling on one type of facility. The federal government offers a variety of housing resources and programs for older Americans, especially those who are living on restricted incomes. The introduction of the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program in 1960 paved the way for more subsidized housing opportunities for elderly renters and homeowners.
Most senior housing programs are provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. This federal department operates a handful of programs and connects seniors with local housing resources to help them find affordable homes.
One of the largest senior housing programs that HUD oversees is the Section 8 program. Also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), this program helps elderly, low-income and disabled individuals find safe and affordable housing.
Seniors can use Section 8 vouchers to reduce their rental payments by as much as 70%. Local public housing authorities (PHAs) are responsible for approving rental units and helping seniors find one that works for them.
HUD also offers senior apartments through public housing, which is another federal housing assistance program. Qualified senior renters can find affordable senior apartments for rent within public housing developments across the United States. These housing units are owned and operated by housing authorities, not private landlords.
Like Section 8, senior housing units are offered at a discounted rental rate to help seniors afford their rent. Those who qualify can have up to 70% of their rent covered through the program.
However, the two programs have a few differences. Unlike Section 8, public housing is not provided through a voucher system. You cannot choose your own apartment.
If you qualify for low income senior housing within a public housing development, a local housing authority will assign you a unit when one becomes available. The housing authority becomes your landlord.
But what about living options for seniors who wish to buy a home at an affordable rate? HUD helps seniors (and other types of prospective homebuyers) find homes offered below market value.
HUD homes are properties that were originally financed with an FHA loan, which is a type of financing that is secured by the federal government. When a borrower stops making payments on their FHA loan, the home goes into foreclosure and HUD seizes the home. To recoup some of the lost money, HUD puts the homes up for sale under market value in hopes of a quick transaction.
You can find HUD homes online using the HUD search tool. Keep in mind these living options for seniors are not rental units, but homes that seniors can purchase and finance.