Housing Assistance for Seniors in California

Last Updated on April 20, 2024 by Rachel

California can be a good state to retire to, depending on an individual’s personal preferences and circumstances. Factors that can attract the elderly to California include:


  • California has a warm climate with plenty of sunshine and access to beaches and outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • The state is home to many cultural and entertainment attractions, including world-class museums, theaters, and music venues.
  • California has a diverse population and is home to many vibrant communities, including a large number of retirees.
  • The state has a robust healthcare system and many excellent hospitals and medical facilities.
  • There are many senior-focused services and resources available in California, including senior centers, transportation services, and health and wellness programs.

Despite this good side of California, seniors can face challenges that may discourage them from staying in this state. Some of these struggles include:

  • California has a high cost of living, including housing costs that are often significantly higher than the national average.
  • Some areas of the state, particularly large cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, can be congested and crowded.
  • The state is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, and droughts.
  • California has a high state income tax rate, which can be a disadvantage for retirees living on a fixed income.

What is the housing cost of living in this state? The cost of housing in California is generally higher than in many other parts of the United States. The median home value in California was $719,475 as of 2022, which represents a 12.6% increase over the past year. The cost of renting in California is also high, with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,932 and the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment at $2,473 as of February 2022.


The cost of living in a nursing home in California can vary widely depending on many factors, including the location of the facility, the level of care required, and the amenities offered. The median monthly cost of a private room in a nursing home in California is $10,646, while the median monthly cost of a semi-private room is $9,125.

Housing Options

As of 2021, approximately 15.8% of California’s population is aged 65 and older, according to data from the United States Census Bureau. The housing options available to these seniors include:

  • Independent Living Communities – Independent living communities are designed for seniors who can live on their own but prefer the convenience of a community setting. These communities typically offer services and amenities such as housekeeping, transportation, and social activities.
  • Assisted Living Facilities – Assisted living facilities provide housing, meals, personal care, and support services to seniors who need help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities – Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer a range of housing options, from independent living to skilled nursing care, all on one campus. This allows seniors to transition to different levels of care as their needs change.
  • Memory Care Facilities – Memory care facilities provide specialized care and support for seniors with dementia or other memory impairments.
  • Affordable Housing – There are several affordable housing options available for seniors, including subsidized apartments and low-income housing tax credit properties.
  • Home Health Care – Home health care provides medical care and support services to seniors in their own homes. This option allows seniors to age in place and maintain their independence for as long as possible.

It’s important to note that Medicare and private health insurance may cover some of the costs of nursing home care, depending on the individual’s coverage and circumstances. Additionally, California has several programs that may provide financial assistance for nursing home care, including Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California) and the Assisted Living Waiver program. Individuals and families who are considering nursing home care for a loved one should research their options carefully and speak with a financial advisor or elder law attorney to determine the best course of action.

State Assistance for Housing

California Department of Aging (CDA) Programs: The CDA offers a variety of programs to help seniors find affordable housing, including the Senior Housing Assistance Program (SHAP) and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP).

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Programs: HUD offers several housing programs for seniors, including the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program and the Housing Choice Voucher program.

California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Programs: The HCD offers several programs for seniors, including the Multifamily Housing Program and the Homeless Emergency Aid Program.

California Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP helps low-income seniors pay for energy costs, including heating and cooling.

Rent Assistance for Seniors

Seniors in California receive rental assistance to help curb the challenges they face related to housing, and they include:

  • Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) – SCRIE is a program that provides eligible seniors with an exemption from rent increases in rent-stabilized apartments.
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program – This program provides rental assistance to eligible low-income families, including seniors. The program helps seniors afford housing by paying a portion of their rent directly to the landlord.
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – LIHEAP provides financial assistance to low-income households to help pay for heating and cooling costs. This program can help seniors on fixed incomes afford their utility bills.
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) – HOPWA provides rental assistance to eligible low-income individuals and families with HIV/AIDS. Seniors who are living with HIV/AIDS may be eligible for this program.
  • California’s Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP) – HDAP provides legal assistance and advocacy for seniors and people with disabilities who are facing eviction, discrimination, or other housing-related issues.

Home Repair and Improvement Grants

Grants are a type of financial aid offered to low-income earners to help increase the affordability and accessibility of housing. Seniors above 62 who own or occupy the houses they wish to repair and live below their county’s low-income limit for households qualify for these grants. In addition, if you cannot receive financial assistance from elsewhere then you can be eligible for the following home repair grants:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program – The CDBG program provides funding to local governments and nonprofit organizations to assist low- to moderate-income homeowners with home repairs, including seniors.
  • The Minor Home Rehabilitation Grant Program – This program provides grants of up to $5,000 to low-income homeowners, including seniors, to make minor home repairs, such as fixing leaky roofs or repairing plumbing.
  • The Seismic Retrofit Program – This program provides grants to eligible low-income homeowners, including seniors, to retrofit their homes for earthquake safety.
  • The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) WAP provides energy-efficient improvements to eligible low-income households, including seniors. The program can help seniors reduce their energy bills by improving insulation, weather-stripping, and other energy-saving measures.

Local Organizations or Charities that Offer Housing Assistance

Local organizations and charities offer financial aid to cover rental expenses as part of their humanitarian services. The organizations found in California that offer housing assistance include:

  • Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) – HCIDLA offers a Senior Citizen Rent Assistance Program (SCRAP) that provides rental subsidies to eligible seniors in the city of Los Angeles.
  • San Francisco Human Services Agency – The San Francisco Human Services Agency provides rental assistance programs for seniors, including the Rental Assistance Program for the Elderly (RAPE) and the Senior Housing Repair and Improvement Program.
  • Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency – The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency offers the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides rental assistance to eligible low-income families, including seniors.
  • Santa Clara County Housing Authority – The Santa Clara County Housing Authority provides rental assistance programs for seniors, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Senior Housing Assistance Program.
  • Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department – The Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department offers rental assistance programs for seniors, including the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Project-Based Voucher Program.
  • The Salvation Army – The Salvation Army provides emergency rental assistance programs for seniors and other low-income individuals and families who are facing eviction or homelessness.
  • Catholic Charities – Catholic Charities offers rental assistance programs for seniors and other low-income individuals and families. The programs vary by location and may include emergency rental assistance, short-term rental assistance, and eviction prevention services.
  • United Way – United Way provides rental assistance programs for seniors and other low-income individuals and families who are facing financial hardship. The programs vary by location and may include emergency rental assistance, transitional housing assistance, and case management services.
  • Vincent de Paul Society – The St. Vincent de Paul Society offers rental assistance programs for seniors and other low-income individuals and families who are facing eviction or homelessness. The programs may include emergency rental assistance, short-term rental assistance, and case management services.
  • California Community Foundation – The California Community Foundation provides rental assistance programs for seniors and other low-income individuals and families who are facing financial hardship. The programs may include emergency rental assistance, short-term rental assistance, and case management services.

Low-interest Loans for Housing

If you would like to purchase a home but have no money, you can apply for loans offered by state agencies at fixed rates to fund your dream home. Some of the loans offered in the state of California that seniors can afford to include:

  • The CalHFA Homebuyer Program – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible first-time homebuyers, including seniors, who meet certain income and credit requirements.
  • The California Home Energy Loan Program (CHELP) – CHELP provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, including seniors, to make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.
  • The California Assistive Technology Loan Program (ATLP) – The ATLP provides low-interest loans to eligible individuals, including seniors, to purchase assistive technology devices and services that can improve their quality of life.
  • The California Veterans Home Improvement Program (VHIP) – VHIP provides low-interest loans to eligible veterans and their families, including senior veterans, to make home improvements that can improve their living conditions and quality of life.
  • The California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible small business owners, including senior entrepreneurs, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The CalHFA Senior Mobility Program – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible seniors to make home modifications that can improve their mobility and accessibility, such as installing wheelchair ramps, grab bars, and stairlifts.
  • The CalHFA Energy Efficient Mortgage Program – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, including seniors, to make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes, such as installing solar panels, upgrading insulation, and replacing old appliances.
  • The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) Mortgage Assistance Corporation – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments due to financial hardship, including seniors.
  • The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) Multifamily Housing Program – This program provides low-interest loans to developers and investors to finance the construction or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing for seniors and other low-income residents.

Legal Assistance for Eviction

The state of California offers legal aid to older adults facing foreclosure and eviction. It is important as a tenant to know that you have rights that your landlord needs to respect even when evicting you. In case you facing eviction, here are some of the legal assistance you can get in California:

  • California Senior Legal Hotline – This hotline provides free legal advice and assistance to seniors over the age of 60 who are facing eviction or other legal issues. The hotline is staffed by attorneys who specialize in senior law and can provide advice on a range of issues, including eviction defense.
  • Legal Aid Society of San Diego – This organization provides free legal services to seniors and other low-income individuals who are facing eviction or other legal issues. The services include legal representation in court, counseling, and advocacy.
  • Bay Area Legal Aid – This organization provides legal services to seniors and other low-income individuals who are facing eviction or other legal issues. The services include legal representation in court, counseling, and advocacy.
  • Bet Tzedek Legal Services – This non-profit organization provides free legal services to seniors and other low-income individuals who are facing eviction or other legal issues. The services include legal representation in court, counseling, and advocacy.
  • The Eviction Defense Collaborative – This organization provides free legal services to tenants, including seniors, who are facing eviction in San Francisco. The services include legal representation in court, counseling, and advocacy.

Various cities have programs to assist you with your legal challenges. You need to visit your city’s Department of Aging to get all the information needed to help you deal with legal matters.

Getting a roof over your head doesn’t have to be a nightmare when you have housing assistance offered by the state government and local and charitable organizations. You just need to know the right places to look and the California Department of Aging is a great place to start.