HUD Guidelines for Qualifying for Senior Housing

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Senior housing offers inexpensive housing for the low-income elderly. The applicant must meet eligibility standards set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. Additional guidelines apply to the housing itself and the other tenants, as the house has to meet HUD standards to be eligible as a senior housing unit.


The purpose of senior housing is to offer safe and affordable places to live for qualified senior citizens. An applicant for this housing must meet income limitations for the area, be age 55 or older and become a United States citizen or have valid immigration status, as per HUD.


The applicant must apply to acceptable housing, as determined under HUD guidelines, to be eligible for senior housing benefits. One of 3 standards need to fulfilled for your housing to be eligible as senior housing: All occupants are 62 and older; HUD has discovered the housing was specifically designed for and is housing elderly people; or 80 percent of the units have at least one tenant over the age of 55, as per HUD. Old housing includes apartment buildings and complexes. Seniors over the age of 65 who have very limited income and resources for the area, according to HUD, may be eligible for a unique type of senior housing known as personal care homes. Personal care homes are for seniors who need assistance beyond basic necessities but don’t yet need long-term hospitalization.


Qualifying for senior housing makes it possible for a senior citizen who has limited income to discover somewhere to live in any rental market. For a senior with special needs, qualifying for a private care home can make a huge difference in his quality of life and financial security, as private care homes are more expensive than conventional rentals due to the additional services provided.


HUD sets highest income limitations for seniors applying for housing at two levels. A senior falls into the low-income class if her income is 80 percent or less of the median income in the county she resides. A senior with income at 50 percent or less of the county median is at the very-low-income class, as per HUD. Seniors applying for housing have to give documentation of income, family and current rental status. HUD can schedule interviews to find out whether the senior and other senior household members are great tenants who will not interrupt the other tenants at the senior housing.


The Fair Housing Act, federal legislation that prohibits housing discrimination against households, has an exemption for senior housing with regards to family status. Housing that meets HUD’s definition of senior housing can legally exclude households with children. An elderly person who qualifies for housing may be refused senior housing if family members who aren’t senior citizens are part of their home. A senior with a history of disruptive behavior in his rental or homeownership history may be refused senior housing even when he satisfies the other requirements, based on HUD.

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