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What Housing Options are Available to Low Income Seniors?
There are 3 primary federal programs for low income senior housing in addition to public and private housing. They all have different qualification requirements that you should check before applying. The major programs are the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, the Housing Voucher program, and Section 202 program.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
This program is regulated and administered by the IRS because the program involves tax credits. Developers and investors who build, buy, or rehab rental properties that are designed to be used for seniors on low income will receive tax credits.
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program has unique requirements for applicants that depend on income and age. Every community also has their own specific requirements for eligibility. Usually the communities will be delegated for individuals who are either 55 years and older or 62 years and older.
The income thresholds are based around the Area Median Income which is the average income for the area. Typically, to qualify you will have to have fixed or limited income under 60 percent of the Area Median Income. However, this threshold can greatly fluctuate depending on the area and the community and could be set at 80 percent, 50 percent, or even 30 percent of the Area Median Income.
Section 202 Supportive Housing
Section 202 Supportive Housing is set aside for frail or limited mobility seniors that need help with necessities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supports this program financially by offering options paid for by subsidies to private organizations, non-profit organizations, and properties so that they can offer more affordable housing options to seniors. This program offers assistance in the form of meal delivery, housekeeping, referrals, counseling, transportation, and medication to seniors. These communities also have ramps, grab bars, and other features designed to help low mobility seniors.
To qualify for Section 202 housing, you have to be at least 62 years old. In addition, you have to meet the requirement of very low income for the household which is typically defined as 50 percent of the Area Median Income. The average annual income for Supportive Housing falls around $10 thousand. You may also be considered if you live in substandard housing or have been involuntarily displaced or if you are paying at least 50 percent of your income towards rent.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is another program that is regulated and administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, state agencies facilitate this program. This program is not solely for senior citizens, but will also accommodate low-income families or individuals or households that are disabled.
Housing for Section 8 is privately owned. If you qualify, you will be given housing vouchers that will help you with your utilities and rent. Typically, those who are accepted into Section 8 will be required to pay 30 percent of their monthly adjusted gross income. Then, the housing vouchers will make up the difference.
For this program, you can choose any housing that meets the standards for Section 8 housing and you do not have to live in a specific area or community. You will have to pass a background screening that will look at your income, assets, and household composition. The limit for Section 8 income is 50 percent of the Area Median Income and will be unique to the location of the housing unit or community. Also, there are usually waiting lists for Section 8 housing.
Public housing are communities that are regulated by city, county, or even state agencies. They are subsidized and made for low income families or seniors. Just like Section 8, you will have to be able to commit 30 percent of your income for rent.
Some private housing offers subsidized rent and HUD may be able to assist in the payments. Private housing is not necessarily part of a particular program and therefore the application process is a little different even though you will still have to meet the income qualifications.
How Do You Apply for These Programs?
The application progress only differs a little between the three federal programs. However, the differences are important so it is a good idea to look at them separately. For public housing application information, contact your local Public Housing Agency.
In order to apply, there has to be an open waiting list or immediate availability. The applications will also have to be given to the property manager or property management company. Typically, applications will be available online or in person. You should find a community, apartment, or other housing option that qualifies for LIHTC first. A lot of LIHTC apartments will have a website that includes a place to send them a message or a phone number for you to call. To receive an application, you may need to contact the local public housing authority.
Different housing authorities have different rules and you will have to follow the instructions provided by the housing office. Therefore, you may be required to obtain the application online or in person. However, if you are disabled or have limited mobility, you will be able to make reasonable accommodations.
For online applications, you will likely have to create a free account and have a verified email address. If you do not have access to the internet, you can get free internet from your local library. In addition, there may also be an application fee.
LIHTC applications are long and will usually be more in depth than applications for Section 8 or Public Housing. The application will ask for your name, gender, date of birth, Social Security Number, income, assets, and other household information. You will also have to provide your prior housing history and employment information. The housing office will have their own instructions regarding the submission of your application.
Section 202 Supportive Housing
There has to be a waiting list or immediately available units for you to apply and you will have to submit your application to the apartment’s property management company. Typically, you will be able to find an application either online, by mail, or with your local housing authority. The property will be able to provide you with instructions regarding the application process so find an apartment or other property and ask them how you should apply. Unlike LIHTC, it is against HUD policy to ask for an application fee for Section 202 housing.
The length of the application itself varies, but they are usually fairly short. Some applications are only a single page. You will have to provide information about yourself, your age, your income, your prior housing history, and employment information. Be sure to precisely follow instructions given to you by the housing office. For questions or additional information you can contact your local public housing authority or a nearby HUD field office.
For Section 8 housing, you will first have to locate and contact your local Public Housing Agency because they administer the housing. They will then be able to determine whether or not you are eligible. Some Public housing Agencies have online applications while others you will have to have mailed or pick up in person. There is no fee for the application.
The application will require information about everyone in your household. In addition, you may have to submit your housing history, criminal history, and other information regarding your employment, income, and contact information. After the housing office processes your application, you will be notified if your application was accepted.
If your application is accepted you will be placed on a waiting list that could be 1 or 2 years long. The application process itself may also take a month or longer. When you receive your housing voucher, then you can find qualified housing. This will also require that you have the property inspected.
The applications for private subsidized housing will be given directly to the property owner, manager, or office. Therefore, you just need to locate an apartment or other property that offers reduced rent or other assistance and contact them directly. However, your Public Housing Agency may also have additional information.