5 Steps To Get Housing Subsidies for Seniors

If you want an apartment that’s cheap, safe, and senior-friendly, follow the steps in this quick guide.

Overpaying for rent can make life tough for the elderly, as it leaves less money for other expenses and emergencies. With the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, you won’t have to worry about overpaying for rent, as the government will chip in to help you with the bill.

How much will the government chip in? Since you’ll only have to pay 30 percent of your income towards the rent, the answer is a lot.

What’s needed to get an affordable Section 202 apartment? Just follow these steps:

1. Figure out if you’re eligible.

You can do a quick prescreen of yourself to see if Section 202 would be a good fit. If the following apply to your situation, you may be the perfect applicant:

  • You or someone in the household is at least 62.
  • The household’s combined income (not including what anyone under 18 makes) is less than 50 percent of the area median income where you plan on living.
  • You already receive another type of assistance from the government (this is not always required for eligibility).
  • You don’t have any felony convictions for violent or drug-related crimes.
  • You don’t have an outstanding debt with a housing authority.
  • You haven’t had housing assistance terminated in the past.
  • You haven’t been evicted from a HUD property within the previous five years.

Again, that’s just a prescreen to give you an idea of what Section 202 looks for in an applicant. Don’t let anything in that list automatically disqualify you without contacting your local housing agency first.

2. Find a Section 202 apartment that fits your needs.

Section 202 apartments and seniors go hand in hand. Beyond the savings the program provides, some of its properties have features and services that many seniors need.

For example, you can enjoy daily activities, plus transportation services. There may be coordinators on-site to assist with care and things like bathing and meals. Some apartments may also feature ramps and grab rails to make senior life easier.

You may have already come across a Section 202 apartment by word of mouth. If not, you can do an online search for Section 202 communities or apartments in the location you desire. Another option is to contact your housing agency to see if they can point you in the right direction.

Once you’ve found a property you like, you’ll have to apply through the landlord or management company that runs it. An application fee may be necessary, unlike Section 8 and other housing programs.

3. Apply for Section 202.

After you complete your application, expect to wait at least a couple of weeks to get an answer. Your wait time may be longer.

4. Wait for approval.

You may be placed on a waiting list before you can move into the Section 202 property. There’s quite a demand for this program, so your wait could last months or even years. This is why you may want to look to areas with a lower population to see if you can reduce your wait time. Ask the landlord or management company for an estimate, and keep in contact with them after applying.

5. Complete the interview.

Once a unit opens up, you’ll need to complete an in-person interview to confirm that you are eligible for Section 202 housing assistance. If you are officially approved, you can move into your new apartment and start enjoying life without the worries of high rent.

Caitlin Fischer

Guided by her own family experiences, Caitlin infuses her work with a sense of empathy and encouragement that helps retired adults and their loved ones navigate complex issues. She has a master's degree in English and almost 28 years of experience as a writer and researcher, including on topics like aging, senior health, care options, activities, and more. She also writes about subjects that affect college students and job seekers.