Differences Between Low-Income Senior Housing and Section 8

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Differences Between Low-Income Senior Housing and Section 8

Bonface Landi · Dec 21, 2021
Senior couple holds up a small replica of a home.

You may have heard the terms “low-income senior housing” and “Section 8” before. Though both are programs managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are many differences between the two. For both, however, your income must fall within a certain range.

Given the many benefits of these programs, competition tends to be very high. In fact, it’s not uncommon for apartments like these to have very long waiting lists that could take you up to two years to get through. This guide discusses them in detail and outlines everything it takes to qualify:

Low-Income Senior Housing

Only individuals aged 62 years and above are eligible for this type of housing. To apply for low-income senior housing, you must also have an income of less than 50 percent of the median income for your area. This type of housing is mainly offered to elderly individuals who require regular caretaking or daily assistance, though they are still expected to pay up to 30 percent of their income towards the rent.

Low-income senior housing is a unique entity in that it’s comprised of federally subsidized housing units. The properties financed under this program are required to house a percentage of residents earning less than the area’s median income. If a tenant moves out of public housing, they will no longer receive a rent subsidy unless they move into another federally subsidized unit or obtain a Section 8 voucher.

If you quality for low-income senior housing, your rent is capped at a fixed amount. This program is part of the federal government’s low-cost housing programs for seniors. It also permits developers who built affordable housing units to receive a tax credit, which goes a long way towards encouraging more developers to create such buildings.

Applying for Low-Income Senior Housing

Your local housing authority accepts all applications for low-income public housing, regardless of whether you’re a senior or not. If there’s nothing immediately available in your area, you may be put on a waiting list. Note that some public housing complexes are so popular that they maintain their own waiting lists, so you may have to apply straight through them.

What Does Section 8 Mean?

Created under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is one of the country’s oldest and largest housing programs. It’s a unique program that grants housing choice vouchers to low-income individuals or families so they can better afford their housing costs. These vouchers enable approved individuals to live anywhere they like, provided the landlord agrees to accept their HUD voucher for a portion of rent payments.

Voucher holders are still responsible for paying as much as 30 percent of their income for monthly rent. There’s no age requirement for Section 8 recipients, but they must earn an income less than 50 percent of the median income in their area. Recipients are selected through an application process, which unfortunately has a waiting list that’s usually four to five years long.

Applying for Section 8

In the U.S., there are currently about two million low-income families participating in the Section 8 housing program. Most of the families in this program earn less than $20,000 yearly, with 75 percent of the vouchers given to those earning 30 percent or less of the area’s median income. If you want to be a Section 8 resident, you can apply online or through your city’s housing authority.

Here are a few other things you should know when applying for Section 8:

  1. You will have to provide your income-related and personal information.
  2. The requirements and restrictions vary depending on your location.
  3. The housing agencies reviewing your application will thoroughly examine your finances.
  4. All of the information you provide must be verified before being approved for the program.

While Low-Income Senior Housing is meant for senior citizens aged 62 and above, Section 8 doesn’t have an age limit – but any low-income senior household stands to benefit from either of these assistance programs.

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