In Elder Law News

Senior African American woman wearing striped shirt smiles in her bedroom.Ninety-three percent of adults 55 and older want to remain in their homes as they age, according to U.S. News & World Report. “Aging in place” involves growing old comfortably and safely in one’s dwelling.

As adults age, they may want to remain in their homes and communities for several reasons. For one, remaining in one’s own residence preserves independence.

When older adults remain in their home, they can continue local activities they enjoy and maintain their routines. They may be better able to maintain their quality of life.

Staying in the same community fosters social support. It makes it easier to sustain relationships with friends, neighbors, and community members. Seniors who need long-term care services also may be able to receive at-home care.

Several barriers can prevent seniors from aging in place. Rising housing costs, home maintenance, and lack of accessibility can prompt older adults and their families to consider senior living options, such as assisted living.

The cost of housing can be a particular burden for retirees on fixed incomes. More than half of older adult renters are cost-burdened. This means that they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, per the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers programs that can help older adults age in place. HUD programs supporting seniors include the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program and the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Note that moving residences to participate in one of these programs may be necessary. However, these programs can help older adults remain in communities rather than entering assisted living or long-term care facilities.

Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program

The Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program incentivizes the creation of housing for low-income older adults. The program funds eligible private and nonprofit sponsors to create senior housing.

Section 202 housing provides support services essential to aging in place, such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation. This type of housing is available to households with at least one adult 62 years old or older. The individual or family must meet the program’s income requirements. The household income must be less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the property’s location.

Residents of Section 202 properties typically pay 30 percent of their adjusted household income for rent. The federal government covers the remaining costs.

To find Section 202 properties, consider reaching out to a HUD-approved housing counselor for guidance. Note that, as HUD does not handle leasing, prospective renters must contact a property manager or owner directly.

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program

Through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, low-income renters who are older can select privately owned housing of their choice that meets program requirements. This gives older renters greater flexibility in choosing housing that meets their needs. For example, they may be able to look specifically for accessible housing.

Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) administer this program under HUD. Participating households receive a voucher. The program pays a housing subsidy directly to the landlord for the participating family or individual.

To be eligible for Section 8 housing, families and single people must meet certain requirements. Generally, their income can be at most 50 percent to 80 percent of the median income for their region.

Apply for the Section 8 Voucher Program by contacting your local PHA. HUD offers an agency directory. While waiting lists for Section 8 Housing can be long, some PHAs prioritize older applicants. HUD permits PHAs to prioritize certain applicants, which can include older adults.

Speak to Your Elder Law Attorney

Both Section 202 and Section 8 programs offer housing for low-income people. However, Section 202 specifically serves households with older adults. Section 8 housing is available to low-income households, including but not limited to families with older members.

Section 202 participants are more limited in their housing choices. They must reside in specific approved properties. Meanwhile, Section 8 participants have greater housing choice.

You may wish to remain in your home for as long as you can do it safely. As you consider housing options for aging in the community, your elder law attorney can help. They can assist you in identifying relevant housing programs and applying for Section 202 or Section 8 housing. 

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