When you retire you are often left with financial difficulty as you adjust to life without a steady stream of income. With the rising cost of housing, this struggle becomes worse over time. Renting an apartment for an affordable price is ideal, but many seniors have trouble finding a home within a limited price range and need rental assistance. To help with the rising cost of rent, they can apply for senior housing vouchers.

Senior housing vouchers fall under the Housing Choice Voucher Program overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly known as HUD. This program is often referred to as Section 8 Housing, as this was the previous name of the program.

You must meet the eligibility criteria to apply for senior housing vouchers. These vouchers are designed to help cover the cost of rent for your preferred home. Read this informative overview to learn how to acquire rental assistance in your area.

Discover the Requirements for Senior Rental Assistance

The Housing Choice Voucher Program does not impose an age requirement on applicants. If you meet the financial eligibility for this program, you receive approval for senior housing vouchers. HUD has designed the program to assist the elderly, families, individuals and disabled individuals who have a low income.

Depending on when you choose to retire, you may not require senior rental assistance until you reach 65 years of age. Regardless of how old you are when you apply, you must comply with all other eligibility requirements to receive program approval.

Your income must be between 30 percent and 50 percent of the median income of your area to remain eligible for housing vouchers. This percentage varies by region since different parts of the country have different median income thresholds.

In specific states, applicants with 80 percent of the median income for their area are accepted into the program. Contact HUD directly to determine the income threshold for your area before you complete your application. This saves you time, as you can determine for yourself whether you meet the income requirement before you fill out your forms.

Seniors must count the following sources of income when determining if they meet the eligibility requirements for senior housing vouchers:

  • Real estate assets
  • Motor vehicles
  • Insurance annuities
  • IRAs
  • Retirement accounts
  • Pensions

Additional assets totaling less than $5,000 are included when calculating your annual income.

What Do Senior Housing Vouchers Do?

HUD offers two types of housing vouchers under this program. One is a project-based voucher and the other is as a tenant-based voucher. Project-based vouchers are distributed to designated housing units and apartment buildings to help landlords cover the cost of their tenants.

Tenant-based vouchers are more common and are distributed to those who qualify for the program. With a tenant-based voucher, you are given a set amount of rental assistance that you apply to help cover the cost of your rent each month. If you move apartments, the tenant-based voucher moves with you to cover the rent for your new home.

The amount you receive from your senior housing voucher is dependent on several contributing factors. These include your monthly income, adjusted income, the Public Housing Authority (PHA) minimum rent and the welfare rent in your state.

When calculating the amount of monthly rental assistance you receive, HUD uses 10 percent of your monthly income and 30 percent of your monthly adjusted income. Once these percentages are calculated, HUD looks at the minimum rent allowed by the PHA in your area, which is typically between $25 and $50. Finally, HUD considers the welfare rent in your state before issuing your senior housing voucher for a designated amount.

Your senior housing voucher may cover a portion of your rent or your total monthly payment depending on the amount you are approved for and the amount you are agreeing to pay for rent. Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you can apply for an apartment, a single-family home or a townhome.

Once you have selected the home you want to live in, you use your senior housing voucher to cover the cost each month. You provide the PHA in your area with your housing voucher and the PHA then pays the property owner with this voucher. If your voucher does not cover the full amount of your rent, you must provide the remaining percentage on your own. Seniors who struggle to make the full payment may seek further financial assistance from HUD or from their local housing authority.

Learn How To Apply for Senior Rental Assistance

Seniors who meet the eligibility requirements for this program complete their application at their local PHA. To find a PHA in your state, visit the HUD website to view a list of locations in your area.

The PHA in your state collects the information needed by HUD to determine your eligibility. This includes personal information in addition to your financial information. Applicants for senior housing vouchers must provide:

  • Social Security Numbers.
  • Bank statements.
  • Tax returns.
  • Health insurance information and payments.
  • Medical expenses, including prescriptions.

The process for receiving program approval is often lengthy. It is not uncommon for seniors to be placed on a waiting list for several years before receiving housing vouchers from HUD. The length of time you must wait varies from one area to the next, as some states have longer waiting lists than others.

When you apply at your local PHA, ask to have your application pre-qualified for income. This helps you determine whether you are going to ultimately receive assistance. If you do not pre-qualify during this check, seek rental assistance elsewhere to receive the help you need within a timely fashion.

Local preferences for senior housing vouchers do exist. Discuss these preferences with your local PHA to determine if you are given preference for anything, as this helps you move through the waiting list faster.

In select states, seniors are given preference if they are displaced involuntarily or if they are going to pay 50 percent or more of their rent when transitioning into a new home.