Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

4/12/2022 | By Megan Mullen

Older adults on a tight budget often need insights into affordable senior living options and in paying for senior housing.

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older as well as certain young people with disabilities, covers many aspects of medical care. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. However, expenses not covered by Medicare include eye exams, dental care, hearing aids, cosmetic surgeries, and the room-and-board expenses of assisted living.

Still, there are other means of getting financial support for assisted living and other senior living expenses.

Seniors Guide suggestions for paying for senior housing


Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. Since the program is funded jointly by states and the federal government, states administer Medicaid according to federal requirements.

Most states have Medicaid programs and Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid Waivers. While states offer personal care assistance through Medicaid, some provide it only through state plans, others through waivers, or some combination.
As with anyone of any age, what Medicaid will pay depends on a few factors:

  • The applicant’s state.
  • Its state Medicaid program.
  • The required level of care.

Typically, there will be a needs assessment. Financial need is a criterion, though not the only one. To learn more about Medicaid, its standards, and its benefits, go to, contact your state office, and visit the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) website.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a U.S. government agency created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society agenda to improve affordable homeownership opportunities and support the housing market and homeownership.

HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program can assist in paying for senior housing and others in need. The program helps low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities afford rental housing in the private market. About one of three households using Section 8 vouchers has a non-elderly (under age 62) person with a disability heading it.

If you want to find HUD housing where you live, check out the HUD guide to U.S. states and territories for specifics.

Other funding strategies and resources for paying for senior housing

It seems there’s always something new in senior care and funding for low-income seniors. Some of those resources can be challenging to locate, so here are a few that might help.

For profit or not for profit

Although nonprofit assisted living residences tend to be smaller than for-profit ones, there can be benefits to smaller facilities. The fewer the residents, the more opportunity there is to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with staff and other residents.

Also, since nonprofit facilities are often charity-based, some may set money aside for financial assistance in paying for senior housing. So, when considering facilities, be sure to ask if funding is available for low-income seniors.

Grants for those living in place

elderly woman in her home garden with her cat. Photo by Dimaberkut Dreamstime. Older adults on a tight budget often need insights into affordable senior living options and in paying for senior housing.

Have you chosen to age in place, in a home with memories and familiarity?

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income households pay for heating and cooling energy costs, energy crisis assistance, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs. The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) also provides financial assistance to update homes to be more energy-efficient and weather-resistant.

Those who qualify (including living in a rural area) might benefit from USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants. In addition, Rebuilding Together is a national nonprofit organization that helps with repairs and home modifications to promote health, safety, and independence. Seniors should also contact independent local contractors about sliding scale payments and reduced fees.

Habitat for Humanity is a possible senior resource for those needing entirely new homes. Prospective Habitat homeowners must demonstrate a need for safe, affordable housing. Need will vary from community to community. Here’s how to apply for a Habitat home. Applications are managed at the local level – find your nearest office here.

Grant databases and related services to help low-income seniors

  • SFGate offers this list of federal and state home repair resources for seniors.
  • To find older adult programs quickly, go to BenefitsCheckUp. a free service from the National Council on Aging.
  • presents several assistance categories, including medication, health care, income assistance, food, housing, and transportation.
  • Also, check your local area’s Agency on Aging for opportunities not available elsewhere.

Keep looking — there’s always something new to help seniors

Watch the publications linked here and others like them for more about affordable strategies for paying for senior housing. Most are updated frequently and will be helpful in your search for affordable senior living options!

Megan Mullen

Megan Mullen is a freelance writer, librarian, and former college professor. Senior life is one of her niches (and a personal interest). Megan enjoys using her writing and research skills to create well-crafted web content and other publications.