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Affordable Senior Citizens Housing

Affordable Senior Citizens Housing

As we age, our housing needs change. If you are looking for low cost senior citizens housing, the options can be overwhelming and confusing. We have compiled information on different types of low income senior citizens housing to help you sort through the options, whether you’re looking for independent living, assisted living, or a nursing home for yourself or your loved one.

Low Income Senior Citizens Housing

If you are looking for an affordable place to live throughout your golden years, you’re not alone, and there are a few good options for seniors who want to continue living independently.

Here are a few ways to locate affordable senior citizens housing in your area: 

  • One of the best places to start is to contact the Housing and Urban Development Office in your area. They can help you find programs for low cost senior citizens housing in your area, which might not be well-known on a national level.  
  • The Housing Choice Voucher Program helps low-income seniors and families, and people with disabilities pay for housing of their choice using a voucher. Eligibility requirements vary by locality, but typically, the family’s or individual’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the area where they choose to live. These programs are administered through local public housing agencies. You can find your public housing agency here and contact them for more information. 
  • The Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program helps seniors live independently while receiving help with some activities of daily living. You may also hear this referred to as Section 202. Seniors who live in Section 202 housing must be at least 62 years old. Section 202 Housing can be hard to find, but your local Housing and Urban Development Office can help you find senior citizens housing in your area through this program. 

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are a great option for senior citizens housing if you want to maintain an active social life and continue the activities you enjoy, but need a little help with activities of daily living. Assisted living facilities vary in their offerings. Some are high rise apartments, while others are sprawling communities resembling college campuses. In most assisted living communities, staff is there to help with residents’ needs around the clock. 

Assisted living facilities are best for seniors who do not need the level of medical care that nursing homes can provide. That said, some assisted living arrangements do provide a higher level of care, such as help with medication management. 

Here are some ways that those with lower incomes can pay for assisted living. 

  • Typically Medicaid and Medicare do not cover assisted living. It is unlikely that Medicaid will cover the full cost of assisted living no matter where you live, but because Medicaid rules vary state to state, it is possible that long-term care Medicaid beneficiaries will receive some assistance. Contact your state’s Medicaid office for more information. 
  • If you or your spouse is a veteran, you may be eligible for the VA’s Aid & Attendance Benefit, which may be able to help pay for assisted living. 
  • If you have a life insurance policy, you may be able to tap into a program in which you can convert your policy to cash without increasing your assets so much that you’re disqualified from receiving Medicaid. A detailed article on this process is available here

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Nursing Homes

If you or your loved one needs a high level of care from medical professionals around the clock, it may be best to consider a nursing home. 

Most seniors in the United States have Medicare, but you might be surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care, such as nursing home. However, there are still some ways that senior citizens housing in a nursing home can be covered by Medicaid. Medicaid is a separate healthcare program for low income seniors. 

Unfortunately, what often happens is that a senior’s income and assets are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but they still cannot afford the high cost of a nursing home. When this occurs, many seniors opt to do a Medicaid “spend down”. This means that some of the individual’s income and countable assets are spent in order to meet the maximum income threshold that would qualify them for Medicaid. If you find yourself in this situation, it is advisable to work with a Medicaid planner. The American Council on Aging has a great resource for finding affordable Medicaid planners. 

Finally, you can also speak to an Office of Housing and Urban Development Counselor, or use the Eldercare Locator for additional help in finding a home that suits your needs, whether you plan to live independently or require care at an assisted living or nursing home facility. 

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Catherine Hall, LMSW is a therapist at a small group practice in New York City. She earned her master of social work degree at New York University.