Yes, it is possible to find affordable housing. And yes, it may take a while. But if you follow the guidelines below, and qualify financially you can enjoy one of these fine communities in the near future.
Kinds of Affordable Housing
Affordable housing can be subsidized by foundations or religious organizations, and by the Federal program under the administration of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Some are cottages, apartment buildings or high-rise buildings. Most offer an “Independent” lifestyle and residents are expected to do their own cooking, cleaning and transportation. Some offer meal programs for an extra charge. Some have activities and scheduled transportation. Other homes are seniors only and you must be at least 62. Some also allow disabled or families.
HUD has a list of affordable homes at http://www.hud.gov/apps/section8/index.cfm
Qualify for a subsidized home
For subsidized senior housing, most housing agencies or homes require that the resident prove that they have an income that is below the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you plan to live. You may be eligible at some communities even with an annual income of $60,000. At others the maximum income allowable may be only $26,000. If you qualify, you can expect to pay somewhat “below market rate” down to 30% of your net income for a studio apartment depending on your income and the program at the community.
Make phone calls
Call each community and ask if there is a waiting list. (There will be.) Ask when they expect the waiting list will be “open for new applications.” Usually they will tell you it is closed and will give you an estimate of when they might reopen the list and it may be 3 months or 3 years. Write it down. Better yet, keep a binder or notebook and make notes about each community. Persistence pays off. If they tell you to keep checking back, do.
When a community opens its wait list they will tell you a specific time and date when they will distribute applications. Usually they will ask you pick it up in person. Each community determines its own policies for its waitlist. When they tell you your position on the waiting list they may give you an estimate of how long it can take before you are called–anywhere from a month to three years. But be patient. One person I know was told 10-12 months and they called her in two months.
Be prepared to fill out the very comprehensive applications. You will need to know or have with you names and contact information for two friends or relatives, a list of all your assets complete with bank name, account number and current balances; a list of the value of all stocks, bonds, trusts, pensions or other assets, value of any real estate; your current rent and landlord contact information; and a complete list of all sources and amounts of monthly income.
On the waiting list
Once you get onto a waiting list, many homes ask you to check back with them every 6 months or so to let them know that you are still interested in being on the waiting list. Don’t forget to do this!
A few final tips…
It’s fine to apply to several communities. Everyone does it. I know a lady who was called by her “second choice” community first. She is now very happy there.
Finally, make copies of your first application to save time and trouble and submitting a copy to subsequent communities–they all ask the same information.
Good luck. And enjoy the exploration process—it can be fun, and exciting!