Low Income Housing Description

Hampshire Village in Silver Spring MdHampshire Village, Silver Spring

What is low income housing?  We attempt to answer your questions and give you the answers you are seeking.  Low income housing can be the answer to finding an affordable place to live for senior citizens.

Questions Answered on this Page:

  • What is low income housing.
  • How do I qualify.
  • What information do I need when I fill out my rental application.
  • How do I find this type of housing.
  • Where do I apply.
  • How soon can I get housing.
  • What is the average age of residents at low income apartments.
  • Is assisted living included.
  • Are there amenities such as pools at this type of housing.
  • What are the differences in these type of properties and market rate properties.


What is low income housing?


What is low income housing.
How do I qualify.
What information do I need when I fill out my rental application.

Low income housing is housing where rents are below the market rates, but you must qualify for this by your income and the requirements set by your county government.  The housing can be designated for very low, low or moderate incomes.  


You can qualify if you meet the income requirements as set by the county of the area the property is located in.  The county usually determines this by the median income of the residents of the county. (There may also be other requirements to qualify.)

If the median income of the residents is higher than other counties, your income restriction will also be higher than a county that has a lower median income.

If you are just over the median income of a county, you can look at other counties that have a higher income restriction.

After qualifying and moving into your new home, income may be reviewed annually. The rules vary on this.  Some places only review your income for a few years then stop while others review every year.

Ask what the income restrictions are because this differs depending on the area.  Ask about all restrictions because there may be other qualifications other than income and these also will vary from place to place.  There may be no other restrictions other than income.

You can just ask the community because they will have all the information about restrictions and rules for their property on hand to give you.  

Documentation Requirements

Additionally, you may have to refer to your tax returns for this income information to determine if you qualify and, if so, to accurately fill out the application. You may wish to take a copy of your returns with you.  The apartment administrator can then better help you in filling out the application.  Other documents to take are paystubs, retirement income documentation and other requests from the apartment manager to prove income.  

There are different rules about what you will actually have to pay.  Ask about those also.  Some places will pay your utilities and some will not.  Or they may just include one type of utility in your rent payment.

Where can I find this type of Housing: 


How do I find this type of housing.
Where do I apply.

There are low rent senior apartments (called affordable) and HUD apartments (low income). See your local HUD office for HUD (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) senior housing locations and qualifications.

  • You can receive a list of properties from HUD.  You can go directly to the apartment community you are interested in and apply there.  You do not have to visit HUD offices.
  • You can also contact your county's Office on Aging for names of low income senior housing developments in the area.  Also, the county government Planning Office will have names of older developments and ones not yet built.
  • There are websites of builders and property management companies that list their portfolios of properties on the internet.  They usually will say if the property has income restrictions.  These can be referred to with terms like affordable, income restricted, or low income.
  • Some builders specialize in this type of property.  If so, you can stay in touch with them to find out what they will be building in the future.  It is best to get on a wait list for new properties as soon as possible since they fill up fast. 
  • Other builders will have only a few such offerings.  In order to be approved to build, they may be required to include affordable housing in a development that is for market rent.  Stay in touch with all builders in an area.  

Above all, apply early as some communities have long waiting lists. HUD rentals are in such demand they sometimes close their Wait List.

Get on Wait Lists ASAP:


How soon can I get housing.

I cannot emphasize enough to get on a wait list asap.  These wait lists can take even years in some areas.  This is especially true for the ones that offer the best value and amenities.  

Some amenities such as nearby healthcare or transportation can make these apartments even more valuable and harder to get into.

Demand is High for Some Communities

These communities can be in extreme demand, especially in areas with otherwise high rents.  These types of properties may have higher design standards and provide more luxuries.    However, if it is a high-income area, typically the income limits are higher.  Therefore, if your income is on the higher side, this would benefit you.

Note: Do not wait and get caught in the ever increasing rents at market rate apartments.

As people age, especially women, they may find assets and job prospects decreasing.  Avoid getting into a situation of being asked to leave an apartment home because you can no longer afford the rent, as many do.  

By getting information now on what is available in your area and the income qualifications, you can be better prepared for any future circumstances that may arise.

More Demand than Availability:

What is the average age of residents at low income apartments.

There is more demand than availability for low income apartments.  As people age, they are looking for easier lifestyles and lower monthly payments.  This is why the average age can be higher at low income apartments than at market rate communities.  

Baby boomers are just now retiring but as they get older they will be looking for lower income places to live.

Some affordable apartment communities state the average age of residents is 73-75.  Unfortunately, it seems likely incomes and assets for many elderly are more prone to decrease with age.  As the numbers of baby boomers increase and the population gets older, the need for affordable housing may increase but the supply may not.

It is wise to be looking for new communities as they come up so to be first on the lists which fill up quickly. 

Please check with your county planning office for new projects.

There are builders that specialize in affordable housing, but many builders of market rate (meaning the rent rates are whatever the market will bear) developments sometimes also build apartments which serve seniors with low incomes.   Find listings through State or County Office of Aging or city planning offices.

Assisted Living:


Is assisted living included.

Is assisted living always included.  No, in fact, assisted living is usually not included.  Most low income housing for seniors is independent housing.  This means you need to be able to get around on your own.  Some will offer meals and housekeeping but this is not the same as assisted living.  

Assisted living communities offer assistance for those who need some help with daily living such as bathing and dressing, and they may offer medication management.   Some have income limits for low income residents but they are fewer.

Newer communities are becoming more visually appealing with more amenities:


Are there amenities such as pools at this type of housing.
What are the differences in these types of properties and market rate properties.

Newer communities are becoming more visually appealing.  In fact, it is hard to tell that these are not market rate apartments.   They may not have many extras like pools or luxury clubhouses and vary in the quality of design; however, we are beginning to see more amenities like fitness centers, wellness programs and activities.

Many newer ones now have luxury items like pools and interior upgrades.

Low Income apartments are included in upscale areas:

One can find low income housing in developments in pricey areas.   In order to build, there may be a requirement by the county to include some units for low income residents.  Builders may also choose to build entire complexes of housing with income restrictions in high-end areas.  One can even find low income purchase condos in bank foreclosures.

Note:  If you purchase a home designated for affordable housing within a market-rate development, be aware that when you want to sell it, it may still be designated affordable with limits on what you can sell it for.  Rules vary on this so you need to verify all information.  Always read your contracts when purchasing.

Benefits of over 55 or 62+ communities are the same:

Affordable senior housing has many of the same benefits as market-rate communities.  The most important ones are:

  • social opportunities with people in your age group
  •  services designed for seniors
  •  strives for an uplifting and caring environment
  •  quiet and peaceful

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