It can be difficult to find senior housing options that are inexpensive. However, there are apartments available specifically for those in retirement with a low income. To find the right one, you’ll want to carry out detailed research and know how to spot red flags. Follow these guidelines to find low income senior apartments that fit your budget and living preferences.
Find and Pay for Low Income Senior Housing
There are a number of government programs that help individuals who qualify to locate and pay for housing:
— Housing Choice Vouchers: This program allows you to find the housing you want. The government provides the amount allowed by your voucher to the landlord each month.
— Public Housing: These communities are generally apartment buildings or complexes that are overseen by a city or county public housing agency.
— Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: This program provides housing to low income families and includes rents that don’t exceed a fixed amount.
— Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly: This initiative helps seniors and the disabled. It offers housing for individuals who are able to live mostly on their own but need assistance with certain daily tasks like cleaning and cooking.
Affordable Senior Housing Search Tips
A good starting point to find low income senior apartments is to research options online. “The best place to begin is reviewing government resources such as HUD.gov,” says Wid Covey, director of business development and founder of SeniorLeaf in the Salt Lake City area.
The Future of Housing Initiative, created by AARP and the AARP Foundation, works to provide more affordable communities, including age-friendly row homes and accessory dwelling units. Senior living sites like After55.com and SeniorHousingNet.com allow you to search for low income housing.
Consider calling your local housing authority and asking for information on local communities that offer affordable housing. “Your local housing authority will be able to provide you with the local maximum rent cost for tax credit affordable properties in your county,” says Mike Wiacek, vice president of asset and property management at Wendover Housing Partners in Altamonte Springs, Florida. If you live in a location that spans multiple counties, check with the Housing Authority in each one to decide which is the most cost-effective choice for you in your area.
Senior Housing Location Criteria
As you look around, you may find that a lot of the options are already filled and not available. This can be especially true in areas with a lower population. “The smaller the city, the faster low income housing options fill up,” Covey says. “If you’re flexible with your location, there are many more openings in large cities.”
Even if you decide to go to a more urban area to get into a senior apartment, expect the process to take some time. “You may still have to get on a waiting list, but there are more options in a larger city,” Covey says.
Some regions of the country have more affordable housing, which could make them viable options for low income apartments. West Virginia has the lowest average property prices of all 50 states, according to data from Blacktower Financial Management. Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa, Alabama and Kansas round out the top 10 for lowest property prices in the country. “Many urban cities such as Atlanta, Austin, Denver, New York City, Pittsburgh and Tampa in particular have dedicated living for seniors with a low income,” says Chanin Ballance, co-founder of Roost, based in San Francisco and Vancouver, Washington.
[Read: 7 Housing Options for Seniors.]
Set Your Housing Priorities
If you find several apartment choices that fall within your budget, consider what’s important to you. “You may want housing that’s close to family, religious organizations or senior centers,” Wiacek says. You might also find some locations are close to places you tend to visit regularly, like grocery stores, parks or gyms.
For those with a disabling condition, it may be especially critical to find a living space that has easy access to important services like senior transportation and health care centers. “You want to find and choose an apartment that will work for you long-term and not just a year or two, so be honest about the assistance or care you may eventually require,” Ballance says.
Know the Warning Signs
In your housing search, you may come across red flags that a retirement community won’t be a good fit. “Keep an eye out for excessive fees,” Wiacek says. “Fees are often applied to everyday items or perks you wouldn’t normally think twice about.” Check for charges related to laundry service, parking, pets and paying rent online.
Make sure the apartment is in good condition and then scout out the neighborhood. “Ask yourself if the community is clean and well maintained and if there is any debris or messy landscaping,” Wiacek says. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, follow up with questions before signing a rent contract.
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