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How to Afford Senior Housing and Elder Care

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The demand for affordable senior living options is high. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the biggest expense of seniors is the costs associated with housing. This includes a mortgage or rental payment, along with utility expenses, maintenance, and repairs. Here are some facts to consider:

  • Thirty-seven percent of seniors over 80 years old are paying over 30 percent of their monthly income on housing. Unfortunately, that housing might not even meet their needs for accessibility, comfort, or safety.
  • This affects younger seniors as well, as more than one-third of seniors over 50 are spending 30 percent or more a month on housing.
  • Even more shocking is that 23 percent of senior homeowners, as well as 30 percent of renters, are spending more than half of their monthly income on housing costs.

Keep in mind, the recommended amount anyone should spend on housing is less than 25 percent. Finding affordable senior living is crucial for older adults who are living on fixed incomes. It is even more vital for older adults who are living below the national poverty level. If you are searching for resources and answers to questions about affordable senior housing, we are here to help you.

What Is Affordable Senior Housing and Care?

If you are an older adult with limited mobility or chronic health issues who need medical aid or daily assistance, an assisted living facility is an option. However, assisted living is one of the more expensive types of senior living. This is due to the moderate or high level of care involved with senior services. If you require specialized care, such as memory care, dementia care, or diabetes care for seniors, then you will most likely pay a premium for this type of senior living. This brings up the next question concerning paying for assisted living for seniors.

What Are Some Affordable Senior Housing Options?

Back to budgeting for housing expenses, there are several options for affordable senior living.

Low-Income Senior Apartments and Condos

Seniors who are interested in low-income apartments and condos should check out the Good Samaritan Society. This is an evangelical Lutheran organization that provides religious housing for older adults on a tight budget. You would apply for a budget-friendly senior apartment through the Good Samaritan Society branch in your area. The minimum age is as young as 50. You do not have to be a member of a Lutheran church to use these services, but you will have to show proof of your income.

Cooperative Housing for Seniors

You can save money by helping out in a housing cooperative for low-income seniors. These co-ops typically involve apartment rentals, in which seniors all pitch in to handle maintaining the building. For example, older adults are given chores or jobs, such as answering the phones at the front desk or cleaning the community kitchen. In doing so, this helps to cut administration costs and makes senior living more affordable.

Section 8 HUD Housing for Seniors

HUD senior housing is a type of Section 8, which is government-controlled low-income housing. This type of senior housing may be available in apartments, condos, single-family homes, or townhomes. In order to be eligible, older adults must apply with a local housing authority. While there is almost always a long waiting list for HUD housing, older adults who meet certain qualifications may be provided with immediate housing. This includes being homeless or without a safe and sanitary place to live.

Virtual Retirement Communities

Another modern way to save money on housing for seniors is to become a member of a local virtual retirement community. This is a type of community outreach that provides older adults with a variety of accessibility services. For instance, a virtual retirement community might provide transportation, grocery shopping, tree removal, or group outings for members. Within a virtual community, the members pay a very low annual fee of approximately $400, which goes to employees who provide the services for older adults. This is one of the lowest costs for senior care services available in the US.

Adult Family Homes or Adult Foster Care

An adult family home is a type of foster care that involves a group setting of seniors who live collectively in a home environment. These residential homes must be approved, licensed, and monitored by the local Department of Family Services. The home itself is managed by paid supervisors, as well as a team of counselors, nurses, dietitians, and social workers. Within the home, older adults are provided with daily needs, as well as housing, meals, and social activities. Keep in mind this type of affordable senior housing is for individuals with a low level of care who do not require specialized medical care.

What Are Budgeting Ideas for Seniors on a Fixed Income?

When you know exactly how much money you have as a senior with a fixed income, it can be easier to set a budget. At the same time, a fixed income may not be enough to cover the necessary expenses. To see where you are with your fixed income as an older adult, start by writing down your mandatory expenses. These include:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Medicine
  • Medical insurance
  • Transportation

You should also have a miscellaneous category for emergency expenses. So how can you reduce your expenses at this point? Take each category and determine a cheaper route for covering this need. For example, with housing, if you currently own a home, it might be cheaper to rent a senior apartment or live in independent senior housing. Owning a home involves paying for maintenance, property taxes, and repairs, which may be costly if the home is older.

Did You Know: There are hundreds of brands that offer discounts for older adults to help you save. Visit our guide to senior discounts to learn more.

If you currently own a vehicle, consider how much you spend on car insurance, gas, maintenance, and repairs. Would it be a better deal to sell the vehicle, put that money into your savings, and use public transportation or virtual retirement community services? By evaluating each of your necessary expenses and brainstorming ways to cut costs by category, you can create a budget that helps you spend within your means.

Savings Tip: As you calculate your budget and work on getting your finances in order, check out our financial guide for seniors. We cover important financial topics like planning for expenses and ways to make your money stretch.

Will Medicaid Pay for Low Income Senior Housing?

Medicaid pays for assisted living for seniors, with some exceptions. Before we proceed, note that Medicare insurance does not pay for assisted living. Medicaid is a type of health insurance available to low-income seniors. If you have Medicaid, check with your state program to see if the benefits will cover some or all of your assisted living expenses. Most states do pay for affordable assisted living because it is less expensive than the similar option of nursing home care for older adults.

How Do I Find Affordable Senior Living and Housing Near Me?

If you are in need of low-income housing, contact your local HUD public housing authority. The office will direct you to the next step in the application process. Otherwise, you can search for senior housing options, such as independent senior apartments or cooperative housing for older adults, in your area. These listings can typically be found by searching online for any type of housing along with your city.

We make it simple for you to find affordable housing for seniors. Using our senior living directory, you can search through our state-by-state listings or via your ZIP code to find senior living services near you.

Reviewed By

Scott Witt

Elder Home Care Expert

Scott founded Select Home Care Portland in 2009 and has been helping seniors live their best life at home or in their local senior community ever since. As an advocate for seniors, the primary philosophy has been to listen, educate and provide… Learn More About Scott Witt

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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