Best Ways to Save: August 2021

Safe, Affordable Housing Can Be Hard to Obtain For Many Older Adults to Find

Over the next 10 years, the size of the age 65 and older population is projected to grow by 17 million.  By 2030, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But older homes don’t always meet the needs of older Americans.  Of the nation’s 115 million housing units, only 10% are ready to accommodate older people.  Affordability is another problem.  Rising home prices and rents, along with slow-growing Social Security benefits, can make it difficult for older adults to find housing they can afford.

There are a number of government programs that can help those who qualify to locate and pay for housing.  To learn more about these programs, first do a Google search for your local public housing authority, or agency.

  • The Housing Choice Voucher program is a federal program for assisting low income families, older and disabled adults, find affordable and safe housing in the private market.  The vouchers are administered locally by local public housing agencies (PHA).  Families or individuals are free to find their own housing that meets the requirements of the program, which is not limited to units in subsidized housing projects.  Assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual and paid directly to the landlord.
  • Public Housing communities offer affordable apartments for low income families, including older and disabled persons.  Often these apartment buildings or complexes that are overseen by city or county public housing agencies.  Some may offer extra assistive services for seniors.

Here are a few things to consider:  Even if you currently have adequate housing, think about how your needs will change as you age.  Among households with adults 85 and older, roughly 50% have reported trouble using features of their current home.  Steps and stairways are the most common problem areas, with access to bathtubs and showers and the second most common problem area.

There may be a waiting list at a prospective facility.  It never hurts to get an idea of what’s available in your area ahead of time to help your planning.

When looking into a new living space, especially any that provide extra services, such as cleaning and help with cooking, learn about additional fees.  The facility may charge for such things as laundry, having pets and/or parking.  Find out how much the rental will go up each year.  It’s not uncommon for senior housing leases to automatically escalate 5% per year.  Over the past 12 years, the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) has only averaged 1.4% per year.

A good way to start a search for safe, affordable senior apartments is to research options online.  A good place to start is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website: