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New York City Senior Housing (Application and Qualifications)

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New York City boasts a number of popular senior housing alternatives

So many, in fact, that trying to understand which housing may be right for you can prove more than a little overwhelming.

If you’re in need of senior housing in New York City but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Below, we lay out a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about senior housing in NYC. We’ll go over every detail so that you’re equipped with the valuable information you need to start pursuing senior housing in no time.

What is NYC Senior Housing?

NYC senior housing refers to a variety of programs that help seniors aged 62 or older find affordable housing. The qualifying age may be reduced to 60 in the case of frail or disabled citizens.

Currently, senior housing initiatives can be found in all major New York City boroughs, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

Generally speaking, New York City offers a number of affordable housing options. Some of these options can be designated solely for seniors, while others provide a mix between seniors and other low-income or disabled people.

Below, we’ll take a look at each of these housing options in detail, starting with options that are targeted solely for seniors.

Adult Care Facilities


Adult Care Facilities (ACFs) provide an array of senior housing services to those in need. ACFs remain a popular form of senior housing, as they can provide packaged services that offer a number of great benefits.

It’s worth mentioning that ACFs provide both long-term and temporary housing services to those in need. Additionally, though these facilities are generally populated by seniors, they can house some younger residents. This is because ACFs in NYC make room for any adult over the age of eighteen who suffers from physical or mental setbacks.

ACFs are regulated and inspected by the New York State Department of Health. While the services offered between different ACFs vary, many are typically provided. For this reason, if you are in need of the following services, be sure to inquire if the ACF you’re interested in offers them: supervision, meals, housekeeping and laundry, personal care, medical visit arrangement, and help with prescription medication.

With this in mind, note that there are four main types of ACFs available. Below, we’ll take a closer look at these four ACFs so that you can find the one that’s right for your situation.

• Adult Homes

Adult homes provide one of the most popular options for senior housing. Adult homes are known for providing around-the-clock supervision and three meals a day for residents.
Keep in mind, however, that they may also serve adults who suffer from mental illness.
Additionally, while these adult homes do provide 24-hour supervision, there are limits to the care that can be provided. For this reason, adults who suffer from any of the following conditions do not meet the eligibility requirements to be apply for residency in an adult home:

• Must not be bed-ridden

• Cannot have unmanageable incontinence

• Must be able to walk without human assistance, or

• Must be able to operate wheelchair without assistance, including moving from the wheelchair to the bed

Keep in mind that adult homes do not provide medical-grade services to residents. Any residents who need assistance with medical services will not be eligible to live in an adult home.

• Assisted Living Programs (ALPs)

Assisted Living Programs are part of enriched housing programs or are certified as adult homes. These differ from other forms of senior housing in that they are able to provide basic nursing care to patients who qualify for nursing homes.

Often, ALPs prove to be a more economical option than nursing homes, but keep in mind that these homes do not serve residents who would need around-the-clock, constant medical care.

• Assisted Living Residences (ALRs)

According to the state of New York, Assisted Living Residences (ALRs) are “certified adult homes or enriched housing programs that have been additionally approved by the DOH for licensure.”

ALRs prove to be one of the most common forms of senior housing available, but understanding the different types of ALRs may take some time. For this reason, carefully consider the below information as you evaluate your different senior housing options.

In order to operate, an ALR must meet certain requirements. Operators must:

• Provide personal and/or home care services to 5+ adults in a “home-like setting”

• Arrange for housing

• Provide 24-hour on-site monitoring

• Provide an ISP (individualized service plan)

• Provide daily meals and even snacks

• Offer case management services

ALRs remain a popular senior housing option because of their emphasis on resident freedom and autonomy. Those living in an ALR can have private or shared rooms or even their own small apartment. Typically, these options will come included with a shared common area. Do note that the only other individuals who are eligible to share this common area are others who qualify to live in an ALR.

Because of their design, ALRs allow residents a greater amount of freedom in conducting their daily activities.

Keep in mind, too, that there are a number of payment options available to those who wish to live in an ALR. Many ALRs accept long-term insurance and even Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Do note, however, that ALRs do not accept Medicaid and Medicare as a form of residence payment. However, if you have Medicaid or Medicare, these programs may help you pay for any medical care that you receive while living in an ALR.

Ultimately, the varying costs of ALRs make it hard to predict how much seniors can expect to pay. Depending on the quality and size of the ALR, costs can vary to the point that it’s hard to establish an average. For this reason, if you’re considering living in an ALR, be sure to shop around for one that best fits your budget.

Types of ALRs

Those in need of senior housing may choose between three different types of ALRs: basic, enhanced, and special needs ALRs. Let’s examine each of these in turn so that you can find the option that’s most suitable for you.

Basic ALR

ALRs boast the maximum amount of freedom and independence. The tradeoff, of course, is that they’re only open to individuals who don’t require outside medical care.

As with other ALRs, this form of housing provides 24-hour supervision that can include some basic personal care. For instance, those who need assistance with activities such as bathing, eating, toileting, or dressing still qualify to live in an ALR. Those who require medical attention or significant help walking or operating their wheelchairs, for instance, do not qualify to stay in a basic ALR.

Additionally, those living in an ALR must be able to follow basic directions and not pose a threat to anyone in the residence, including themselves. To make sure that residents stay healthy, basic ALRs require an annual medical exam for everyone living in the building.

Those requiring additional assistance should consider living in an Enhanced ALR.

Enhanced ALR (EALR)

Enhanced ALRs provide assistance that goes beyond the ability offered by basic ALRs.

These resident facilities offer comprehensive assistance, such as help walking or transferring from bed to wheelchairs. They also offer the same 24-hour supervision as Basic ALRs.

Importantly, however, should a patient’s condition worsen to the degree that they need 24-hour medical care, they’ll need to be transferred to a hospital or other nursing/medical facility to receive care.

The State of New York notes that those wishing to remain in an EALR under these conditions must meet the following requirements:

  •  The resident hires appropriate care for their needs
  •  This hired medical professional and the ALR operator agree that the medical services that need to be provided can be safely administered inside the ALR
  •  The operator agrees to the arrangement, including providing services and coordinating care
  •  The resident agrees to the proposed healthcare solution

Keep in following that all of the four conditions above must be met if a resident wishes to remain in an EALR with an advanced condition.

Additionally, note that admission to an EALR can be granted in two ways:

1. A resident in a Basic ALR has a condition that has become so advanced that they now require additional services. This is also referred to as “aging in place.” ALR residents who have come to need additional care that can be provided by an EALR have the option of transferring to a new EALR facility.

2. Aspiring residents apply directly to the EALR.

Finally, to recap, keep in mind that the residents who qualify for an EALR may need help with any or all of the following: assistance in using medical equipment, using the restroom, walking or transferring from bed to wheelchair and back, and help to eat.

Special Needs ALR (SNALR)

The third and final type of ALR is specifically designed to meet the needs of patients suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Importantly, note that some patients with dementia do not necessarily require to be in a SNALR. These are reserved for those patients who have such impaired cognitive ability that they require special assistance in getting their daily tasks completed. Other types of special needs may also be addressed, so be sure to contact SNALR in advance to find the full range of services they offer.

Like other forms of ALR, 24-hour supervision is provided for all residents.

• Enriched Housing

For seniors who don’t require 24-hour supervision and who would like the most independence, enriched housing proves a popular option.

Enriched housing programs are reserved for seniors—most of whom are 65+ years old. Additionally, unlike other forms of senior housing that may be integrated with other in-need or disabled adults, enriched housing programs serve only the elderly.

These programs do come with some drawbacks, namely in that operators are not required to provide three meals a day, nor do they have to offer more than part-time supervision.

However, residents are afforded more privacy, usually getting their own apartment with a kitchen. They’re also placed in a senior-living community, making it easy for individuals to find friends and build relationships.

The lack of supervision makes it great for able-bodied seniors looking for a community-oriented setting while still retaining large degrees of independence.

Home Sharing and Shared Living Residences Programs

Home Sharing programs are a popular option for able-bodied seniors looking to retain their independence. These programs can also serve the mentally-disabled.

These programs operate to match seniors with like-minded individuals, typically other seniors. However, the match could be made to younger adults and other homeowners, or individuals housed by non-profit agencies.

These programs work by matching seniors in need of a home with others who are looking for roommates. These programs will later provide some follow-up support to ensure the success of the arrangement.

Senior Residences with Services—Market Rate

This form of senior housing provides seniors with small apartments that come with basic housekeeping services. They may also provide personal services, such as providing seniors with a certain number of meals every day.

Importantly, however, this form of senior housing runs through private, commercial avenues. This means that they lack the government oversight and regulation provided by other senior housing programs.

In some ways, however, they’re able to provide greater flexibility, with some residences offering more comprehensive nursing coverage.

For this reason, those looking to find affordable senior housing in New York should make sure to shop both government-regulated and commercial options.

Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly

Residents who are looking to have government-regulated housing, however, may choose to make use of the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program.

This program, specifically designed to help seniors in need, provides assistance to low-income seniors in need of rental assistance. Additionally, this program now includes funds for support services such as meals and transportation. The New York City government notes that these services are designed to “help residents maintain independent living.”

These programs work to reduce the economic burden of low-income seniors by providing housing and services as a set rate of 30% of one’s income. The rest of the cost is shouldered through federal subsidies.

To be eligible for this program, seniors must be the following qualifications:

• 62-years of age or older (must apply to at least one resident in the household)

• Low income (for older models) and low-to-moderate (for newer models)

While this form of housing may be popular, the supply doesn’t quite reach the demand. For this reason, residents who wish to find housing through the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program may find themselves on years-long waiting lists.

What’s more, the housing has become so full that many residences no longer accept resident applications. For this reason, if you’re in need of immediate housing assistance, consider trying one of the above options.

Mitchell-Lama Housing

Mitchell-Lama Housing is another form of government-regulated housing in NYC. These residences are generally open to adults of all ages; however, a predetermined number of Mitchell-Lama residences were set aside for seniors during construction.

These subsidized apartments provide a solid choice for senior living for able-bodied and middle-income seniors.

Who is Eligible for Senior Housing?

What requirements do you have to meet in order to qualify for senior housing in New York City? As we’ve seen, this can often depend on the type of senior housing that you choose. However, the general guidelines below can serve as a rule of thumb. Be sure to check with specific residences on their requirements, however, before ruling them out.

• Frail or Disabled Citizens 60 and Older

For seniors who are frail or disabled, housing is generally open for those who are sixty or over. This gives disabled seniors a small favor in obtaining senior housing, for as we will see, the age of other residents is generally higher.

• Economically Disadvantaged Citizens 62 and Older

Other residents who are wishing to be part of New York’s senior housing programs generally must be economically disadvantaged and at least 62 years of age or older.

• Can Bring One Living Partner who also Fits These Requirements

Keep in mind that some residences allow seniors to bring one living partner who also meets these requirements. Other homes may require that only one partner meets the guidelines.

In order to find the home that’s right for you, be sure to check their specific rules and regulations.

How Much is Low-Income Senior Housing?

The high number of different senior housing options makes it difficult to get an average cost. Do note, however, that many of these housing options do not accept Medicaid or Medicare. Instead, they are generally paid for out of a resident’s personal funds or SSI.

Additionally, while there are some great low-cost options available, these more affordable options generally have long waiting times. These options work to limit the cost of senior housing to a fixed portion of the renter’s income.

With this in mind, be sure to shop around to find the senior housing right for your budget.

What are the Benefits of Senior Housing in NYC?

Senior housing in New York provides elderly across the city with several benefits over their current situations. With many apartments and living spaces designed with the elderly just in mind, NYC senior housing is designed with the senior experience in mind.

For this reason, let’s go over a few of the most prominent benefits of senior housing to find out if it’s right for you or someone you know.

• Safer

If you’re looking for a safe retirement space for your or for a loved one, senior housing in NYC may be the way to go. Studies consistently bear out the fact that older New York citizens wish to keep their independence as much as possible. This can be evidenced in the multitude of senior living homes, condos, and assisted living facilities that have sprung up around the city.

A look at the data shows that senior living homes have become a popular option. With disability and accessibility support, these homes provide aged citizens with an easier way to live independently. Programs such as Enriched Housing help even the oldest or most disabled New York City senior citizens live an independent life. Available to seniors 65 years old or older (or disabled seniors 60 and older), the program helps individuals live a normal life, with certain benefits such as meal prep, shopping, and a twenty-four-hour on-call emergency service.

What’s more, many senior-living apartments or communities are designed so that seniors have increased mobility and safety in their new homes. With both senior-citizen and disability support, these communities provide seniors with unmatched convenience and safety.

Still, for seniors living outside of these communities, there are a few existing programs that can aid in home safety. Specifically, the Home Repair Loans and Grants Program hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture offers seniors in NYC (and around the country) access to home repair grants that can be used to make existing senior homes safer and more accessible for the disabled. The Residential Emergency Services to Offer (Home) Repairs to the Elderly (RESTORE) also aids NYC seniors in renovating individually-owned properties to better fit disability and senior-compliance standards.

• Cheaper

Seniors in NYC have access to affordable housing through a variety of subsidized units. Low-income individuals struggling to make traditional rent payments now have access to cheaper, better housing through HUD-sponsored rental units and other forms of senior living homes.

Many senior homes are designed so that even individuals making only 50% of the median income (or as low as $10,000 a year on average) can live comfortably. In addition to this, many seniors in New York City are protected from unfair rental rate hikes. Specifically, these seniors are entitled to locked-in rates on their homes, meaning they aren’t subjected to arbitrary rental rate increases.

Compared to the cost of assisted living or nursing home expenses, subsidized senior housing provides the elderly with a more cost-effective solution to senior living. With the average cost of living in a nursing home around $81,030 a year, NYC senior housing provides a substantially cheaper and more fulfilling alternative to traditional nursing home care.

• Designed for Seniors

One of the most significant benefits of NYC senior housing is that it’s designed for seniors. The advantages of this are twofold. First, seniors have access to housing engineered particularly for their safety and wellbeing. This means that all senior living homes in New York City come equipped with necessary disability ramps and important child and adult protections that secure against unwanted injuries.

Additionally, however, this means that seniors can live amongst their peers. With senior living homes, the elderly have access to quiet, peaceful neighborhoods where they are less likely to be disturbed. Unlike nursing homes, however, these senior facilities provide an upbeat, positive atmosphere. For seniors, this represents a chance at living in a community designed especially for them.

Perhaps most importantly, senior living facilities of various kinds are equipped to take care of senior needs. Depending on the type of facility seniors choose, they could have access to quick and urgent medical care if necessary. This means that senior living largely provides seniors with the extra protection they need to feel secure in their older age.

• Community-based

To add to this, senior-living facilities are largely community-based. Seniors can enjoy lively atmospheres with their peers and interact with their neighbors on a daily basis. This is made possible through a variety of community events offered by many senior housing facilities.

For seniors looking for a greater sense of community, certain senior living homes provide weekly or daily social events that foster a communal spirit and neighborly love. This means that, by choosing the right senior living facility, seniors can avoid the traditional drain of nursing or assisted living homes.

Importantly, many senior living homes in NYC provide seniors with a way to interact with friends and neighbors and grow with the community. For seniors making a significant lifestyle switch in their twilight years, this communal atmosphere often proves vital to a positive overall experience.

• Protects Your Privacy

Seniors living in rent-regulated apartments have access to legal protections to their privacy and wellbeing. NYC law prevents landlords from harassing or disturbing the peace of any senior citizen living in a rent-regulated or stabilized apartment in the city.

This means that seniors don’t have to worry about losing their apartments or other services at the hands of an irate landlord. On the same note, seniors never have to stress over persistent landlords who constantly disturb their privacy and their peace.

Seniors who feel that they have been or are currently being harassed can contact the Division of Homes and Community Renewal Enforcement Unit and file a complaint against their landlords.

Invasion and privacy and harassment against senior citizens is taken seriously and could even result in a lawsuit. As such, it’s important that seniors understand the protections they have under certain categories of senior living.

Legal Protections for Seniors

If you or someone you are know are considering senior housing in New York City, there are a few legal considerations to keep in mind before submitting your application. New York City offers a variety of legal protections for seniors that can keep you or your loved ones safe from exploitation or harm. For this reason, it’s crucial that you brush up on the following information before submitting your application for senior housing.

Keeping the following information in mind can help you make the decision that’s right for you and defend yourself down the road in case of a legal emergency.

• Discrimination

In the state of New York, it is illegal for landlords or housing authorities to discriminate against potential occupants on the basis of age, sex, color, disability, creed, sexual orientation, or national origin. These protections secure equal opportunity housing for all New York City seniors regardless of their physical or mental status.

For seniors, this means access to affordable rental or assisted living housing without the fear of discrimination. Keep in mind that it’s illegal for your landlord to refuse to renew your lease based on any of the above factors. If you feel that you are being denied housing opportunities as a result of your age, disability, or other uncontrollable factor, report your findings to NYS Division of Human Rights for an extensive investigation.

Additionally, the state of New York criminalizes rental discrimination based on income when income is generated from lawful sources. This means that seniors receiving benefits and other aid should not be denied affordable senior housing in New York City. Accordingly, those who suspect that their equal opportunity housing rights are being denied should report their situations to the proper authorities.

• Lease Termination

If you are 62 or older in the state of New York and have been deemed medically unable to live alone, you are entitled to certain protections under your current rental agreement. Specifically, no landlord may deny lease termination to residents who are in need of more comprehensive, affordable, and specialized senior housing.

For those seniors who find it impossible to live independently, you are entitled to cancel your existing lease at no cost to you. This means that your landlord is legally required to shoulder any liabilities and cannot force you to carry through with your existing agreement.

Keep in mind, however, that in order to receive these protections, you must first get a note from your doctor stating that you are no longer able to live independently. If you have this documentation, you should be able to end your lease drama and hassle-free.

If you are in need of specialized housing but are being trapped into your current rental agreement by your landlord, make sure to contact the NYC Division of Human Rights so that you receive the protections you deserve. Furthermore, if you feel you have been hurt in any way, remember that you can bring a lawsuit against your landlord and may be entitled to significant reparations.

Keeping this information in mind can help you find the right senior living home when or if the time comes.

• Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE)

For elderly New York City residents living in rent-regulated or stabilized apartments, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) protects against any rental rate increase. This means that certain seniors can expect to pay a fixed rate for their housing needs.

This program is designed to help low-income seniors have access to affordable housing and to prevent manipulation of seniors by greedy landlords. If you are a senior living in a rent-regulated apartment, it’s important that you understand what you need to do to apply for SCRIE.

Remember that, in order to be eligible for SCRIE, you or your spouse must be at least 62 years of age and the head of your respective household. What’s more, you must meet certain income standards that require you pay more than one-third of your total income for rent.

For senior citizens looking to move to another rent-regulated apartment that better facilitates senior living, it’s possible to carry over SCRIE benefits. In order to do so, tenants must apply at the NYC Department of Finance. These benefits must be renewed every two years (or every one year if you sign one-year leases).

SCRIE does not protect seniors from having to pay an additional security deposit. However, it does offer a variety of protections against unfair fuel cost adjustments, maximum base rent increases, and other unfair rate increases that could dispossess economically-disadvantaged seniors.

• The Right to Share Your Apartment

Seniors living in either specialized senior housing or in rental apartments have certain protections that guard against unfair infringements of rights. Specifically, most senior living facilities allow tenants to move in with their spouse, providing that their spouse also meets the eligibility requirements for senior living housing in NYC (at least 62 years of age, low-income, etc.).

For seniors who choose to live independently, keep in mind that the state of New York protects your right to share your apartment with at least one other guest, provided that the guest is family or has minor children.

In order to take advantage of these protections, tenants must notify their landlord within thirty days of the expected tenant’s arrival. This means that seniors can have access to familial caretakers if necessary—without landlord interruption.

Whether you choose to live in a designed senior living facility or take advantage of the legal protections offered to seniors when it comes to housing, make sure you know your rights before applying for any senior living home or signing any lease. Doing so could help protect against future issues and ensure safer, more convenient, and more affordable living for both you, your spouse, and your family.

How to Apply for New York City Senior Housing

If you are looking for affordable New York City senior housing for either yourself or for a loved one, it’s important that you know how to apply. Applying for senior citizen housing can be confusing at first—especially if you’ve never done so before. For this reason, let’s take a look at some easy ways to start applying today.

The best way to apply for New York City senior housing is to go online. Organizations such as NYFSC (New York Foundation for Senior Citizens) allow seniors and their families access to full profiles of various senior living facilities with downloadable application forms. A quick visit to the NYFSC website offers seniors a look at potential homes that may be right for them. Many of the organization’s senior living facilities are a part of the Enriched Housing Program, making the website a good first choice for seniors looking for affordable housing.

Other websites such as the New York City Housing Connect allows seniors to find affordable senior living apartments in their area. Simply create an account and search online for the affordable housing option that suits your needs.

For seniors looking for general housing assistance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a comprehensive online platform that can be used to check out all senior living housing options in New York City. Specifically, the site gives seniors access to a variety of privately-owned subsidized housing, public housing, and Section 8 housing options.

In addition to this, many senior living facilities in New York City have their own private websites that you can visit and download application forms. For seniors with a particular destination already in mind, this may serve as the easiest and quickest way to get approved for senior living housing.

Understandably, for many seniors, it may be difficult to apply online. For this reason—or at least for peace of mind—you may find it easier to visit particular senior living facilities and find out their application details in person.

Whether you apply in person or online, keep in mind that you will need to show proof of age, income, citizenship, and more. For this reason, make sure that you have the appropriate documents so that you can streamline the application process and increase your chances of getting approved.

For online application, please click here.

The Bottom Line

Senior living in NYC doesn’t have to be complicated.

Though senior housing has become increasingly competitive with the aging of the baby boomers, there are steps you can take to get approved for affordable senior housing in New York City. For starters, you can brush up on the eligibility requirements for NYC senior to see how qualified you are for specialized senior housing.

Additionally, you can find out which senior living options are available to you. While many tend to see senior housing as a one-size-fits-all ordeal, the reality is that there are a variety of senior housing options in NYC. This means that applying to more diverse housing options can help you find the facility or apartment right for you.

By following the information in this guide, you or your loved ones can be one step closer to achieving quality, affordable senior housing in New York City. Use this guide as a reference for all your senior housing needs!