How The Section 202 Program Provides Seniors With Housing Assistance

Are you a senior in need of housing or rent assistance, or do you know somebody who does?

If so, you’ll be glad to know that the Section 202 program may be able to fill that need.

What Is the Section 202 Program?

Also called the Supportive Housing for the Elderly program, Section 202 provides rental assistance for seniors. It’s run by the HUD and is considered to be the organization’s best option for seniors seeking housing to fit their specific needs.

While the fact that Section 202 has developed over 400,000 individual units for seniors since 1959 is impressive, it’s the features of these units that stand out.

Many seniors need special features in their homes to make life easier, and Section 202 has taken this into consideration with their construction plans. Some units are fully accessible for those who use wheelchairs, while others come equipped with ramps, grab rails, and more.

Why Is Section 202 Housing Best for Seniors?

As mentioned, the accessible features of Section 202 housing are ideal for the elderly. They go far beyond ramps and grab rails, however, as some units also offer perks like:

  • Communal spaces where seniors can eat, mingle, and hold events.
  • On-site care coordinators to assist residents.
  • Assistance with bathing, meals, and medications.
  • Transportation services.
  • Daily activities.

How Affordable Is Section 202 Housing?

Since a qualifying senior will only be expected to pay 30 percent of their income towards the rent, Section 202 housing is very affordable and an excellent option for someone on limited, fixed income.

Section 202 Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for Section 202 housing, there must be at least one or more seniors in the household. A senior is classified as someone 62 years of age or older. Also, the household income cannot be higher than 50 percent of the median income for the area.

You can see median income limits by going here. There are no asset limits set by the HUD.

Income can include such things as retirement funds, checking and savings accounts, and whole life insurance, however. To see how the HUD counts assets as income, go here.

How to Apply for Section 202 Housing

There are a couple of options for kickstarting the process to get senior rental assistance via Section 202. The first is to contact a Section 202 housing project directly by going in person. The second is to contact your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) and ask them to point you in the right direction.

If the senior meets the income limits for the Supportive Housing for the Elderly program, they technically qualify for rental assistance. Unfortunately, many seniors require such housing assistance, which means demand exceeds supply.

In other words, the senior will probably have to sit on a waitlist. In some cases, these lists may have a wait time of two years or longer. For this reason, it’s best to kickstart the process now by using one of those two options listed above.

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.