Q: I’m thinking about selling my house and downsizing to an apartment. What are my options for affordable housing, and how long will I have to wait?
Ask an expert: Dana Totman
President, Avesta Housing
A: Making the transition from owning a home to renting an apartment is an emotional decision for anyone, but for low-income seniors, it’s made more challenging by a need to find safe housing that is also affordable.
There are several types of housing that are age-restricted for seniors. Some of these properties are for people ages 55 and older, and others are for people ages 62 and older. This means a head of household must meet the age restriction. In addition, some 62-plus properties allow heads-of-households with disabilities regardless of their age.
Seniors who are on a fixed income of $1,053 or less a month are in need of what is known as subsidized housing, where the rent is based on your income and is calculated as 30% of your gross adjusted household income. The sad truth, however, is that lengthy waitlists for this kind of housing means seniors often wait two or three years, or even longer, before an apartment becomes available.
Waitlists are shorter for unsubsidized communities; however, you generally have to have a monthly income of at least $1,053 or $12,636 a year in order to afford the rent, and for many seniors, that kind of housing is out of reach.
The key to transitioning from a home to an affordable apartment is to plan ahead as far as possible. It’s a good idea to add your name to housing waitlists even if you think you won’t sell your home for a few years. Early action will increase your chances of having an affordable apartment available when you need it.