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Categories of Senior Apartments

The three pricing categories of apartments (although all may not be available in any one market) are:

  • Market rate
  • Above market rate, luxury rentals
  • Affordable

Market rate are just that. They offer unit size and numbers of bedrooms and baths as non-age-restricted rentals in the area at a competitive monthly rate, or occasionally 10-15% under general age-occupancy market-rate rents. The senior orientation of the age restricted community may however offer different amenities and other advantages geared to the needs and preferences of seniors.

Above market rate, luxury rentals are a relatively new phenomen for the age-restricted market. We see them appealing to the affluent senior wanting a "home" in a second city, or wanting to be free of maintenance without giving up luxuries. Some high end age-restricted properties definitely offer "snob" appeal.

Affordable apartments for seniors (sometimes 55+, more often 62+) are in high demand and short supply. Social, cultural and medical changes have certainly contributed to the need.

Contributing factors are:

  • Predominence of women among the 65+ population and their lower retirement income
  • High divorce rates among women now 55-80
  • Out-living husbands resulting in lowered retirement income
  • Unplanned longevity leading to out-living ones financial resources

Affordable apartments have been created by government programs since the 1930s. What is defined as affordable in one community may not match the definition of affordable in another community. Housing is "affordable" if one pay no more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent and utilities. To provide housing that is "affordable" government relates affordability to the county median income.

Housing labeled "affordable", indicates someone who earns (or receives) the median income in that county must not have to spend more than 30 percent of that income to pay their rent and utilities.

Programs that provide opportunites for affordable housing are structured or defined by regulations from federal, county or city government legislation.

  • "Vouchers" enable a qualified recipient to rent a market-rate home or apartment and the voucher assures the landlord that the renter will pay 30 percent of his or her monthly income toward the rent and the difference between that portion and the market-rate rent will come from the government entity granting the voucher.

  • Bonds may be through city or county redevelopment programs, and use the money raised from the bond sale to fund and subsidize specific development of housing for "lower" income people. Bonds may specify what percent of the median income someone must have to qualify to rent in their building. i.e.You may be restricted to make no more than 50 percent of the median income in the county. Perhaps the funding of the complex specifies that you can make no more than 120 percent of median income. The funding is specifically tied to the complex, or specific units that are "affordable".

  • Funding can also come from grants, community, government or federally based. The grant money functions similarly to bond money, designating percent of county median income at the time of the grant.

  • Tax credits are another way that the federal government may encourage development of affordable housing. By awarding tax credits (money deducted from a company's federal tax obligation) in exchange for developing apartments within restrictive guidelines. In the past many years we see properties developed to offer affordable apartments that combine tax credits, grants and bond measures.

The most commonly-known rental vouchers are Section 8 vouchers which can provide renter-based benefits to a qualified renter. They provide rent subsidies so tenants who hold them do not pay more than 30 percent of their adjusted gross income for rent.

To find out about affordable housing opportunities in an area, contact city or county housing agencies. Local senior centers and Area Agencies on Aging may also be able to identify affordable housing or even outline the steps for getting onto waiting lists. Because of undersupply, waiting lists prevail in almost all regions for affordable rentals.

Congregate Housing and multi-level campuses offer what they call Independent Living. They offer services for those in their own "apartment". These services may be optional and charged separately above rent. Shared meals, transportation and housekeeping are among the most common services provided. This housing type differs from the conventional notion of an apartment and therefore is defined separately as Congregate Housing or
Assisted Living since that is the one common element for multi-level offerings. The Independent Living offering is most appropriate for those not able or willing to continue living alone. Recently we have seen senior apartment buildings add services to retain their frail and aging residents. We considered them apartments with added congregate services.

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Things to Consider When Apartment Shopping

  • Parking convenience to the living unit.
  • Lighting and security around parking.
  • Storage
    • Are there a lot of closets and cupboards?
    • Is their common storage for an additional fee?
  • Stairs.
    • They may be a deterent or a means of staying fit.
  • Distance to shopping - walking or riding.
  • Public transportation availability and convenience.
  • Distance to medical facilities and doctors.
  • Security.
    • Total complex access from external streets.
    • Individual apartments
      • Intercom to front door, apartment entry and front desk.
      • Safety pull cord in unit.
  • Grab bars in bathroom and tub area.
  • Cabinet and counter height.
  • Shower and/or tub arrangements to meet your present and future needs.
  • Management quality and experience.
  • Ammenities on site:
    • Pool.
    • Spa.
    • Clubhouse.
    • Laundry availability.
  • Services and activities available or provided.
  • Distance to relatives.
  • Greater community cultural activities.
  • If you are eligible for subsidies, do they accept rent vouchers?

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Begin A Search

To get started looking for apartments visit Resources By State to see what options are listed in your state.

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We are always looking to add communities.
Contact us to inquire about adding your community.

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