Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Budget Housing for Your Aging Parent: Consider Section 8, Pt. 2

Is your parent struggling to pay the rent? And does it get worse every year, as medical costs increase? Section 8 could be the answer.

It was for 85-year-old Helen. Until recently she paid $910 a month for rent and utilities, quite a stretch for her monthly income of $1350. Helen and her family looked into Section 8, a HUD-sponsored program which gives vouchers for rent assistance to low-income seniors.

Section 8 takes two forms: the more common Tenant-Based Voucher, which allows tenants to take their vouchers from place to place throughout their state to Section 8 participating programs. The second form is called a Project-Based Voucher, good at only one location.

Helen's apartment complex had a Project-Based Voucher program. Since the program was new, she was able to stay in her current apartment.

To prove her eligibility, Helen had to document her income and assets, as well as submit to a background check. She also documented her medical costs, such as doctor's and dental visits, Medicare insurance and Medicare supplements.

How did the story end? Happily. Helen's medical expenses of $350 a month were subtracted from her gross monthly income of $1450 (before Medicare is taken out). That resulting number, $1100, is called the gross adjusted income. For seniors on Section 8, their rent portion cannot exceed 28% of that number.

Helen's rent now is $308, instead of $910. Same building, same program, but a huge savings.

Do you have experience with Section 8 you'd like to share?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Budget Housing for Your Aging Parent: Consider Section 8, Pt. 1

Is your aging parent stressed over high housing costs? The following quiz may shed light on his or her plight.

1. Is your parent's income less than 30% of the median income in her area? In King County in Washington, that lowest income figure is $18,500 for a single person.

2. Is your parent living temporarily with family or friends until he or she can find something permanent?

3. Is your parent paying more than 50% of his or her income for rent and utilities?

A "yes" answer to any of the above may mean your parent could qualify for Section 8, a HUD-sponsored program that gives substantial rent subsidies in the form of vouchers, usually spendable at a number of housing complexes.

How does the program work? Your parent takes his gross annual income (before Medicare A coverage is taken out) and subtracts medical expenses such as Medicare premiums, insurance, medical appointments, prescriptions, etc. The resulting figure is his or her gross adjusted income.

Dividing that number by twelve gives the monthly adjusted gross income. If qualified for the program, your parent will pay 28% of that amount for rent in a qualifying apartment complex. The Housing Authority pays the difference between your parent's portion and the market rent.

It's a great deal. Just ask some of the residents at Evergreen Court, where I live. Thanks to Section 8, they will soon save lots of money on rent. Their kids are smiling, too.

My next post on Section 8 for seniors comes soon.

Have any of you had experience with helping your parent find Section 8 housing?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Writing a Thank-You to Your Aging Parent's Caregiver? Here are Samples

Perhaps you want to write a thank-you letter for your aging parent's caregiver. But you don't know how to start. You're not alone. I'd like a nickel for everyone who've found my blog by searching for "writing a thank you to my parent's caregiver."

Just in time for Valentine's Day, here are two samples of thank-you letters that will give you a start on formulating your own.

Dear Mary,

Our whole family is so lucky to have you care for Mom! You make her day special in so many ways: from applying cream on her hands and doing her nails, to tidying her room so it always looks neat, to playing her favorite music when she needs to relax. When I mention your name, Mom's eyes light up and a smile spreads across her face.

In caring for Mom with compassion and enthusiasm, you give me peace of mind. While I'm at work all day, I'm confident Mom is happy and well cared for. The other family members feel the same way.

I hope you'll show this letter to your supervisor. I'm sure she already knows what a great caregiver you are. But perhaps my words will confirm her ideas. You are wonderful!


Here's another letter:

Dear John,

My Dad and I want to thank you for the great care you provide! Because of you, he always looks clean and well-groomed from head to toe. You take him through his day in style, from shaving and grooming him, to taking him for a walk, to remembering to turn on the sports channel on television so he can watch the big games.

Your compassionate care puts our whole family at ease. At work I don't worry about Dad's happiness or well-being. I know you're helping him do the best he can every day.

Please don't hesitate to show this letter to your supervisor. I want her to know how much I appreciate the big and small things you do for Dad and for us all.

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