How To Select Proper Housing For You or Your Parents

Housing Selection

In the search for housing, there are many options available to individuals and caregivers. Aging Information Network has taken the liberty of categorizing the most widely used types of housing available into two easy to navigate sections. First is the “Subsidized Housing” Option and second is the “Private Pay Housing” Option. The difference between the two are defined below.

Subsidized Housing: Subsidized Housing is a housing option where the full cost of living is not fully placed on the occupant or the party in charge of the occupant, some of the cost of living may be deferred to the government or some other public or private entity.

Subsidized Housing Works: This is housing in which tenants pay less than the going rate for rent or for rent and services. Subsidized housing receives financial assistance from a government or other public entity to build or operate the development, to help pay for some of the rent and utility costs, or for the provision of services. Rent prices are typically set or approved by the entity that provides the financial support. People who meet specified household-income guidelines are eligible to live in subsidized housing.

Senior Public Housing: This housing is regulated by a government agency. It is restricted for seniors only and the rent is less than an Independent living community. Sometimes there are specific guidelines one must follow while renting.

Share Living Residence: This is housing for two to ten people who live together as a family. Residency may be restricted to seniors or may be intergenerational. This housing may be a shared single-family home or a shared apartment. Tenants share the finances and upkeep of the residence. Each has a private bedroom and bath. All share a common living room, dining room, and kitchen. Shared living may or may not include activities, supportive services, or personal care services for tenants. Subsidized versions may be supervised by a government housing agency.

NOTE: To be eligible for certain “Subsidized Housing Options”, there may be guideline qualifications that include but are not limited to: health, age, income, number of occupants or dependents, & residency restrictions.

Private Pay Housing: Private Pay Housing is a housing option where the full cost of living is the sole responsibility of the occupant or the party in charge of the occupant.

Senior Housing: This housing is restricted to seniors (and possibly younger adults with disabilities). It includes no supportive services or staffing to address the special needs of aging residents. This housing is not licensed by a government agency. Subsidized versions may be supervised by a government housing agency.

Active Adult Community: This is an age-restricted (often aged 55 and over) community of single-family homes, condominiums, or cooperative units. It includes lifestyle amenities such as a tennis court, swimming pool, golf course, fitness center, clubhouse, and/or restaurant. This housing is not licensed by a government agency.

Independent Living Community: This housing is associated with an admission fee. The fee varies from communities based on the amenities or social courtesies or pleasantries.

Retirement Residence: This housing and care complex is restricted to seniors. It includes independent living units (apartments and/or cottages), social activities, meal supportive assistance, and personal care all on one site.

Nursing Homes: This facility is licensed and regulated by the State. This facility can be costly for long term stays. The facilities usually have skilled professional staff available 24 hours a day. All meals and services are included in their cost. Many Long Term Care Insurances cover the cost of services.

Dementia Care Facility: This housing is specifically for people with dementia. It can be a discrete facility or can be a special section or wing in a housing development or a residential care facility. The physical layout, programmatic aims, staffing, and care plans are specially designed to address the needs of people with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia conditions. This housing is licensed and regulated by the State as an Adult Home.

NOTE: “Private Pay Housing Options” are less restrictive than “Subsidized Housing Options”, and in many cases are just limited to one’s ability to finance their stay. In both cases, guidelines and qualifications may vary from site to site and State to State.


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Aging Information Network (AIN) is a multi-dimensional website providing information resources through listing of providers to care givers who may or may not have time to assist in daily care or locate services for their elderly loved ones.