I Live in HUD Housing for Seniors

I am 66 years old and on a fixed income. I receive social security and have a part time job earning an hourly salary. By all accounts, I am considered to be lower income. Yet, I still have a decent quality of life which is in part to living in a HUD apartment complex for senior citizens.

HUD, for those who do not know, is short for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a cabinet department in the Executive branch of the federal givernment. HUD was founded as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” program to assist lower income persons with their housing needs.

My housing is not fancy, but definitely acceptable and more. My rent is based on income and this allows me to have a much higher quality of life than if I had to pay market rent. I pay 30% of my income minus a utility allowance and minus most medical expenses.

I have a really cute one bedroom apartment in a very nice area town. I live right next door to a small, but very nice, shopping center which includes an organic supermarket, a nail salon, movie theaters, several restaurants and shopping. I am on several bus lines and can take public transportation anywhere I want to go. My only complaint about my apartment itself is that there is no bathtub, only a shower. But that is not the problem of HUD. This property was built in the 1970’s and it was built with only showers.

There is HUD housing for seniors all over the United States. Not in every city but almost certainly in every state. You can go to the HUD website to begin your search. But better yet, you can phone any social service agency in any city to find if there is HUD housing for seniors in the area. And to get information. I currently live in Central Texas but am considering relocating to Denver or Miami. I called a social service agency in these respective cities and asked to speak to a caseworker who assists seniors. I told the caseworker that I was interested in HUD housing for seniors and got the information that I needed.

If you want to stay in your community, and you are reaching your senior years, you can speak to any social service agency to get a list of HUD housing for seniors. You then visit any of the apartment complexes that you are interested in. Meet the manager. Then put your name on the list if you have decided that you might like to live in the complex. You can put your name on more than one list. And then you wait. Depending on the size of the building and your community, you can wait as little as six months or as long as two years. Mostly you are waiting for people to die which is a little blunt and not 100 percent accurate. Sometimes residents choose to move to another complex or move in with children, move to another city (like I am hoping to do) or have to move to an assisted living complex or a nursing home.

As your name get closer to the top of the list, you will be notified and then you get to do the paperwork. And there is a lot of paperwork. The first time, you have to allow a good two hours and more to do the paperwork. You will be given a list of what you need to bring to this interview such as six months of bank statements, medical expenses, social security letter, proof of income, investments, etc. You even have to report valuable collectibles like a coin or stamp collection

You are now very close to getting an apartment. Your name is probably among the top three. Once an apartment comes up for you, you have to take it or lose it. You have to take it fast and sometimes you have to work out a deal with your current landlord. You may have to pay rent on two apartment for a month or two depending on your lease with your current landlord and or you may have to break your lease.

Living in HUD housing is not a perfect situation. There are rules that do not always apply in other apartment situations. For instance, my manager does not allow us to have a community wide garage sale. This is strictly an individual decision by the manager of my apartment complex. In other HUD complexes, the manager assists the tenants in having a once or twice a year sale.

We are not allowed to light candles although many residents do. But if caught, you can get “written up” for breaking the rules. This goes in your file and can lead to an eviction if you get caught again. There are other rules. At times, the situation does appear to be oppressive. But it is an acceptable situation. You learn, hopefully, how to live with the rules.

Your complex and your apartment gets inspected once or twice a year minimum. HUD inspects once a year and so does the management company. On one hand, it is for your own protection checking to see that the complex is safe and sound but staff go into every apartment inspecting them thoroughly to see it is being kept up. They will look under the sink, in your cupboards, in your freezer, etc. I have heard of a resident getting “written up” for having dirty dishes in the sink. You know in advance when these inspections are going to take place and most residents do a thorough cleaning before these inspections take place.

Sometimes the other residents can be a problem. Myself, I am very busy and active and fairly happy person. Other residents are not. Some are cranky, bitter and unhappy. Often they do not feel well. There is a lot of gossip and backstabbing. I have learned that it is best to be casually friendly with everyone but I do not get involved in anyone else’s life and I do not want any of the residents to be involved in my life. I choose to socialize elsewhere.

I do not know if the situation is different in a retirement center for more affluent seniors. I have visited persons who live in more affluent senior communities. The property is prettier, larger and there are a lot more activities and amenities but there are still conflicts and fighting and gossip.

I wish that I could afford market rent but I can not. If I could, I would have more control over my living and housing situation. If it were not for HUD, I would be living in one room in the poorest area of a city. Or worse. I could be out on the street or at The Salvation Army. With all its imperfections, I bless HUD every day for what they offer us seniors who have fixed incomes and or are not fortunate enough to earn a lot of money. Because of HUD, I am enjoying a way of life not possible for someone on my income.

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