"It's as big as our other apartment and it's only $600 a month." Those were my father's words when he and Mother moved into a seniors-only HUD apartment complex.
As a minister, Daddy's retirement was minimal. So this one-bedroom apartment was a real blessing. Besides shelter, the apartment offered opportunities for fellowship with people their own age. The community was located close to the senior center, shopping and parks.
If your parents are struggling financially, affordable senior housing or retirement communities might just fit the bill. But first, here's a look at the myths.
Myth 1: Programs are uniform. Nationwide, various governmental agencies oversee low-income housing for the elderly. The most well-known are HUD-subsidized senior apartments, which give preferential treatment to those with very low incomes (30% of the average family income in the surrounding area.) In other affordable housing programs, for-profit and not-for-profit companies receive tax breaks if they rent a certain percentage of their building to seniors with low to moderate-incomes. Still other programs offer vouchers which seniors use in selected communities.
Myth 2: Affordable senior housing is only for people with practically no resources. Income limits are usually based on the average family income in the area. For certain programs in the Seattle area, single seniors can make $36,000 (60% of the median family income). A couple can make as much as $41,100.
Myth 3: Senior affordable housing consists of apartments with few amenities. Not always. Some have common areas such as lobbies, meeting rooms and game rooms. In addition, there are a few full-service retirement communities serving low to moderate income seniors and offering meals, housekeeping, activities, transportation and assisted living. Evergreen Court Retirement and Assisted Living in Bellevue, Washington, has such a program.
Myth 4: Affordable senior housing always has a years-long waiting list. Not always. My parents were able to move into their apartment near Milwaukee without waiting at all. Today in the Greater Seattle area, some affordable senior apartments have immediate openings. The longest waiting time is for housing serving seniors with very low incomes.
To locate affordable senior housing, contact your local senior center.
Do you have experience with low-income housing for your parents or loved ones?