Housing and Living Options for Rural Seniors

Housing and Living Options for Rural Seniors

Jun 23 2014

If your elderly loved one lives in a remote area, you may worry about their well-being or their financial ability to keep their home safe and maintained. If that's the case, there are programs and services in place to help keep your loved ones safe and their home hazard-free. These options for rural seniors are plentiful and can secure peace of mind for everyone in the family.

Affordable Housing

Staying at home can prove difficult or expensive for some seniors. They may find themselves too far away from doctors' offices, grocery stores and shopping areas.

In this case, there are specific housing complexes located in rural areas that can provide an affordable and safe place for your loved one. These complexes fall under Section 515 Rural Rental Housing and are designed for elderly or disabled seniors. Living options for rural seniors may offer the following amenities:

    • On-site maintenance

    • Emergency call buttons

    • Wheelchair accessibility

    • Meals on Wheels visits

    • Transportation

    • Grocery and pharmaceutical delivery

    • Community areas for entertainment or socialization



They can be cheap, too, as some of these complexes participate in the Rural Development Rental Assistance Program. Under this program, rent can only be a maximum of 30 percent of for the qualified resident's adjusted growth income (AGI).

Staying at Home

If your loved one is struggling to fix a roof or replace a faulty water heater, they might be eligible for assistance. Two federal programs, the 504 Loan and Grant Programs, can help seniors keep their homes properly maintained. Those eligible for these programs may receive these benefits:

    • Up to $7,500 in grants

    • Up to $20,000 in loans, capped at 20 years with 1 percent interest



These programs are only available to very low-income households--those whose income is 50 percent or less of their county's median household income. For loan eligibility, applicants have to qualify as follows:

    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

    • Be able to incur debt

    • Have a credit history (although credit requirements are lenient)

    • Have some income to prove repayment ability

    • Not have the current resources available to make the repairs



For grant eligibility, applicants have to fit this criteria:

    • Be at least 62

    • Be unable to pay back a 504 Program loan



These loans and grants can only be used to make necessary upgrades, remove hazards and bring a home up to standards. To apply for the program, contact your local USDA Rural Development office.

Socialization, Transportation and Safety

Whether your loved one chooses to stay at home or move to a rental complex, they need to be able to get around for both social and shopping reasons. Even if they don't have a car, other options may be available, such as these services:

    • Para-transit offering discounts for the elderly

    • Volunteer transportation programs

    • Transportation vouchers, to use for services like taxis and public transit



You may also want to consider using an adult day care center if there's one within a reasonable distance. This option for rural seniors offers a safe environment, and can provide meals, transportation, activities and entertainment during the week.

Your community may have some programs in place you don't know about. For example, some communities have check-in services where a network of volunteers makes daily phone calls to seniors to check on their well-being. Contact your local area agency on aging or senior committee to find what options are available in your community.

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