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Section 202 Housing: What It Is And How It Works In 2023

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As we age, we know that our health is declining, but we also know our own limits.

We may need help with transportation and cleaning.

Still, we don’t necessarily need to move into a nursing home.

Unfortunately, paying for the help of personnel on top of rent can be expensive.

Section 202 supportive housing is the solution for people who struggle to live without support in place.

Multifamily housing facilities allow seniors to hold onto their dignity.

This supportive environment does not impede individuals’ way of life.

Plus, rent is based upon income, allowing individuals who work part-time jobs to maintain a housing unit.


What Is Section 202 Housing?

Section 202 Supportive Housing is a government-funded program.

Its main goal is to provide public housing assistance for the elderly.

Essentially, it funds non-profit organizations.

They use this money to construct and operate residences for low-income elderly households.

Non-profits receive a capital advance.

It will cover costs related to construction, acquisition, or rehabilitation.

Then, these companies receive a Project Rental Assistance Contract, which will bridge the gap between the rent paid by residents and operating expenses.

History of Section 202 Housing

The Housing Act of 1959 established this Housing and Urban Development program.

In its early stages, Section 202 was less specific.

Before 1974, a part of the funds could be used for Section 8 housing.

Section 811 was established in 1990.

This program provides housing for low-income individuals with disabilities.

Now, Section 202 strictly helps the low-income elderly population.

Benefits of Section 202 Housing

Multifamily housing benefits seniors who wish to live alone but still need help around the house.

The goal of Section 202 housing is to allow elderly people to live independently in a supportive environment.

Residents live in their own apartments.

Each one is equipped with grab bars, non-skid floors, and an emergency call button.

If necessary, they will also have access to wheelchair ramps and elevators.

Personnel provided by the complex offer supportive services and will typically clean, cook, and transport residents to medical appointments.

They may also assist with bathing and dressing as needed.

Apartments provided by Section 202 are the same as renters would find elsewhere.

They come equipped with a kitchen and bathroom.

The number of bedrooms may vary, but most apartments consist of one bedroom.

Cost of Living

Those eligible to live in Section 202 Housing receive rental assistance.

They pay 30% of their adjusted income as monthly rent, which supplies affordable housing to those in need.

Additionally, changes in income will affect these residents less drastically.

Rent is income-based, so it will decrease when income decreases.

Who Qualifies for Section 202 Housing?

Most people aged 62 and older qualify for public housing under Section 202.

Entire households with one or more seniors also qualify.

There are no specific disability or health requirements.

However, this program is geared toward those who need the most help.

Basic Requirements

There are also specific requirements for applying.

Only those 18 years and older can apply.

They must be a US citizen or a noncitizen with eligible immigration status.

People who live alone or with a family can both apply.

Most residences do not require that applicants live in the same area as the housing unit to which they are applying.

Income Eligibility

The adjusted income of the household must be less than half of the area median income to qualify, assuring that those who really need affordable housing can receive it.

The following items may factor into the income considered by this program:

  • Social security
  • Retirement funds
  • Pensions

This next set of income sources will not count toward the household’s total income:

  • Money earned by children under 18
  • Financial help for medical expenses received from family members
  • One-time, sporadic income, such as gifts
  • Any funds received from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Restrictions and Preferences

Most of those who receive this form of housing are women who are about 79 years old.

The current average income is around $13,000.

There are requirements that residents must continue to meet after acceptance.

They must:

  • Follow the lease requirements
  • Follow rules specific to their house
  • Report income and changes in income
  • Report the number of family members living with them and any changes to this number
  • Complete recertification every year
    • Recertification must be completed within 15 months of the due date. Otherwise, residents will lose certification and assistance payments.

Common Disqualifiers

Individuals evicted by a Housing and Urban Development program within the past 15 years are disqualified.

Additionally, individuals who have lost their benefits from a housing authority are ineligible.

Applicants who owe money to a housing authority are also disqualified.

It is more difficult for criminals to be accepted into this program, but it is not impossible for most.

A record of arrests but no convictions will be more easily forgiven.

These individuals have a better chance of receiving housing.

Any type of recent conviction can be very detrimental, but convictions that occurred several years before applying are less influential.

Housing authorities may also overlook minor convictions.

Crimes that may be dangerous to those nearby will be taken more seriously.

These distinctions are crucial in multifamily housing facilities.

Housing authorities take charges of violence and substance abuse more seriously.

They consider these charges to endanger other occupants.

Any lifetime sex offenders are immediately disqualified.

Keep in mind that it is illegal to falsify information on an application, which will immediately disqualify any individual.

How To Apply for Section 202 Housing

Luckily, applying for housing is quite simple.

Simply follow these steps and wait your turn.  

Finding Available Homes

To apply, you must first find available public housing.

You can contact residences and ask if they take part in Section 202 Housing.

You can also use the Housing and Urban Department’s low-income apartment search.

The Application Process

Upon searching for an apartment online, you will see specific prompts.

Enter your state, city, county, and zip code (or the name of the property).

Then, choose an apartment type and the number of bedrooms you would prefer.

The tool will provide a list of apartments that align with the information you provided.

Make a note of the properties’ addresses and contact information.

Reach out to any apartments you like and ask about availability.

The housing authorities can then place you on a waiting list.

There is nothing else to do until a housing unit is available.

At that point, you will complete an interview with the management company or landlord.

The interviewer may request that other household members join the meeting, as well.

This interview is of the utmost importance.

You must save the date and arrive on time.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Applicants may find themselves waiting a year to be approved for rental housing.

Then, their housing unit of choice may have a waiting list to receive an apartment.

Current Issues With Section 202 and Elderly Housing

Section 202 supportive housing is the perfect solution in many ways.

Sadly, there are still many challenges.

Inadequate Supply of Supportive Housing

The Baby Boomers began turning 65 in 2011.

Ever since then, the elderly population has been increasing significantly.

Between 2010 and 2020, the population of Americans aged 65 and older increased by over 34%.

Unfortunately, affordable senior housing has struggled to keep up with this growing demand.

Long waiting lists and low vacancy rates appear in most supportive housing facilities.

These show that Section 202 Housing and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs do not adequately meet the needs of the elderly.

Only 34% of elderly people who qualified for supportive housing have access to it.

Construction of New Units

Between 1959 and today, Section 202 Housing has seen noticeable variations in funding.

One of the most underfunded areas has been the construction of new units.

Between 1970 and 1995, construction began to increase.

Workers completed construction on more than 5,000 new units each year.

Then, from 2013 to 2016, the government did not fund any new housing units.

By 2020, however, $90 million were provided to construct new units.

The following year, $100 million were set aside for new capital advances.

Thus, funding for construction is increasing for now, but it may change at any time.

Funding will need to increase exponentially, which is the only way to provide for the growing population of low-income elderly persons.

Projections for 2023

The President’s Budget called for $928 million to be put aside for Housing for the Elderly in 2022/2023.

This money will fund the construction of 1,100 new units. $125 million will renew about 1,600 grants.

Plus, $3 million will supply inspections and administrative costs.

The Housing and Urban Development program is also working to emphasize climate resilience.

Thus, new grants and loans may be available to improve pre-existing properties.

Final Thoughts

The US government has provided much-needed support to the elderly.

A great deal of this support stems from the Housing Act of 1959.

There are strict requirements, but most people can benefit greatly from supportive housing.

Hopefully, the government will continue to increase funding available for Section 202 Housing.

With extra assistance, everyone who needs help can receive it.

Does this program seem to address your needs?

If so, use the Urban Housing and Development search tool to help you find your new home.

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