The Section 202 Program
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) runs Section 202, which is also called the Supportive Housing for the Elderly program.
It launched in 1959, and many consider it to be the HUD’s number one housing option for seniors since its homes are outfitted explicitly with elderly needs in mind. Since its inception, Section 202 has led to the building of over 8,000 housing projects that have allowed it to provide nearly 400,000 housing units for seniors.
As for why Section 202 homes are a senior’s best bet, many of their homes come equipped with such features as ramps and grab rails.
Some are also fully accessible for wheelchairs.
Besides providing features that allow for increased accessibility, Section 202 housing may also help seniors interact with others via social areas for eating and mingling.
Those who live in 202 housing can rely on an on-site care coordinator to help with assistive services. While benefits vary according to location, some offer added assistance in the form of bathing, transportation, meals, medication, and daily activities to keep senior residents occupied and healthy.
The HUD makes 202 housing affordable for low-income seniors through Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRACs). In such an agreement, the senior pays 30 percent of their income towards rent, while the HUD pays the difference.
The Section 8 Program
The HUD also offers housing assistance to qualifying seniors through its Section 8 or Housing Choice Voucher program, which is the largest of its kind.
While Section 8 was made with low-income families in mind, many seniors take advantage of its benefits to secure safe, affordable housing. In fact, about ¼ of Housing Choice Voucher recipients are seniors, which is categorized as those over the age of 62.
Although the HUD runs Section 8, local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) are responsible for working with applicants to secure the benefits they need.
As long as the housing meets requirements set by the HUD, a senior can live in an apartment, townhome, or single-family home. The rent amount includes utilities, and the senior will pay 30 percent of their income towards the bill, with the HUD funding the rest, which will be paid directly to the landlord.
Unlike 202 housing, the Housing Choice Voucher or Section 8 avenue is more geared towards seniors looking to live independently of others.
The Section 521 Program
The HUD may be the most popular source of rent assistance for low-income families and seniors, but it isn’t the only option. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides rent assistance as well through its Rural Housing Division.
Section 521, or the Rural Rental Assistance program, subsidizes rental units for low-income residents on a smaller scale than Section 8. Some of its buildings are designed specifically for seniors, who will pay 30 percent of their income towards rent while the USDA covers the rest.
To see if this program is available in your area, contact your nearest USDA office.