How to find affordable housing in Baltimore
Dear Savvy Senior,
Are there any resources to help seniors find and pay for senior apartments? My aunt, who’s 75 years old, needs to find a new place to live but has very little money. What can you tell me?
Finding affordable housing options for older adults can be difficult, depending on where your aunt lives. Apartments for retirees are a good option, and you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of government programs that can help out financially.
Here are some tips that can help you and your aunt find a low-income senior apartment that fits her budget and lifestyle:
Start with HUD
There are several different government programs available today that can help individuals who qualify to locate and pay for housing, including:
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8): This program allows you to find the housing you want. The government provides the amount allowed by your voucher to the landlord each month.
Privately owned subsidized housing: HUD helps some apartment owners offer reduced rents to low-income tenants.
Public Housing: These communities are generally apartment buildings or complexes that are overseen by a city or county public housing agency, and are available to low-income families, the elderly and those with disabilities.
Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: This program provides housing to low-income families and includes rents that don’t exceed a fixed amount.
Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly: This initiative helps seniors and the disabled. It offers housing for individuals who are able to live mostly on their own but need assistance with certain daily tasks like cleaning and cooking.
For more information about these programs and to locate apartments in your aunt’s area that may offer them, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rental assistance page at HUD.gov/topics/rental_assistance.
You can also search for low-income housing at senior living sites like After55.com and SeniorHousingNet.com.
If you or your aunt don’t have internet access or have troubling maneuvering the internet, you can also locate nearby affordable housing options by calling your local housing authority; call 1-800-955-2232 to get your local number. The Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s number is (410) 396-3232, and Baltimore County’s number is (410) 853-8900.
If your aunt lives in a location that spans multiple counties, check with the housing authority in each one to compare.
How to choose
If you or your aunt find several apartment choices that fall within her budget, she should consider what’s important to her. She may want housing that’s close to family, religious organizations, senior centers, or places she visits regularly, like grocery stores, parks or gyms.
Or, if she has a disabling condition, it may be critical for her to find a living space that has easy access to important services like senior transportation and healthcare centers.
Here in Baltimore, St. Mary’s Roland View Towers are two affordable high-rise apartment buildings in Roland Park and Hampden. Utilities are included in the rent of efficiencies, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, and the property includes a salon, library and reception desk.
Warren Place Senior Apartments, located next to the Cockeysville Senior Center, has one-bedroom apartments for those 62 and up. Residents are welcome to use the game room or stroll the landscaped grounds.
Catholic Charities Senior Services has 24 affordable locations in Maryland, including the 25-acre Jenkins Senior Living Community in southwest Baltimore.
Weinberg Place in Northwest Baltimore offers studio and one-bedroom apartments for adults 62 and over. Its shuttle service to grocery stores, game room and communal eating program are popular benefits. In fact, Weinberg Senior Living operates nine other properties located in the Baltimore area.
Virginia Towers Apartments, located in Towson, has pet-friendly apartments for people over age 62, along with free parking and hot water and perks like a computer room on site.
A waterfront affordable senior living community in the Inner Harbor, Christ Church Harbor Apartments has 288 units with great views. Rents are based on income.
If you see a property named Park View, it’s part of the Enterprise Residential family. Managing more than 80 affordable housing communities, Enterprise Residential is “a leader in the affordable housing industry throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia,” according to its website. [Ed. Note: All of these communities advertise in the Beacon and are listed on the Free Information Coupon found on page 5 of this issue. ]
What to look for
In your housing search, keep an eye out for extra fees that may be applied to everyday items, or perks you normally wouldn’t think about, such as laundry service, parking or pets.
You should also make sure the apartment is in good condition, and then scout out the neighborhood. Ask yourself if the community is clean and well maintained and if there is any debris or messy landscaping. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, follow up with questions before your aunt signs a rental contract.
Margaret Foster contributed to this article.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.
Correction: In the print version of this story, we incorrectly stated that Heritage Run at Stadium Place offers affordable housing. In fact, the community offers market-rate apartments for people 55 and up. We regret the error.