One state that is most desirable for seniors to live in is Florida. Florida is the 8th most densely populated state. The warm climate, cultural diversity, and all the recreational activities seniors can take part in makes the Sunshine state a good option to retire to. In addition, you won’t have to pay state income, inheritance, or estate taxes which makes living here quite affordable.
When you are on a passive income, it makes sense to live in a place where your money lasts longer. Find yourself in a state with an average or below-average cost of living so that you have a few bucks left for yourself to travel, support your family, and help those in need.
As we continue to age, the need for affordable and quality housing increases. The good thing is Florida has over 3000 senior apartments or Florida 55+ apartments that allow for senior communities to live in. The price depends on how luxurious the apartment is. Despite the dense population creating a demand for housing, senior living apartments are affordable. You can expect to pay as low as $1,100 to as high as $4,700 per month in rent. The average rent at senior living facilities is $2,500.
In this article, we will cover the housing options you have in the state of Florida, state assistance for housing, programs that offer rent assistance, home repair grants, charities, and local organizations in the state that can assist with rent payment, low-interest loans for purchasing houses, legal assistance for eviction and shelters you can live in temporarily if you can’t afford to house.
Housing for Seniors in Florida
According to the United State Census Bureau, Florida has the highest percentage (21%) of seniors with over 4.2 million seniors above 65 residing in the state. Although the population of seniors is high, there is still a challenge for seniors to find suitable housing. Florida is one of the worst states when it comes to housing and this challenge has been a problem for ages
Housing Problems Seniors Face in Florida
- High cost of housing, especially in South Florida: Seven in 10 low-income Floridians are paying half their income on housing, which is difficult. Imagine the situation of retirees with no active income! A household paying more than 30% of its income is a growing challenge in this state.
- Limited availability of affordable housing designed specifically to meet the needs of the older population.
- Isolated senior living: Seniors become socially isolated when they lose their, making it difficult to access healthcare services and community amenities. The most affordable housing options are in rural areas where there are issues with availability and accessibility to social amenities.
Housing Options for Seniors in Florida
The most common housing options available in Florida are:
Florida 55+ Apartments: These are retirement communities and developments designed to cater to retirement living. These independent living communities offer amenities like transportation, dining options, and social activities. They are also very affordable to seniors with a fixed income.
Assisted Living Facilities: If you need a housing option that also offers assistance handling daily activities and healthcare services, this option is for you. The cost of assisted living is $4,000 for continuum care, but not as intense care as that provided in nursing homes.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC): The average cost of living in these communities is $4,700. In Continuing Care Retirement Communities, you will get a wider range of housing options within one community, including memory care, independent living, and assisted living. A CCRC simply put is an independent living, combined with part assisted living and part skilled nursing home.
State Assistance for Housing
There are several programs and initiatives set up to address housing for seniors in the state funded by the federal and state government. Housing assistance for seniors offered by the state of Florida includes:
State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP): The State Housing Initiative Partnership program is administered by Florida Housing to preserve affordable and multifamily housing for low and moderate-income families. The program funds local governments that establish housing assistance, develop housing plans and strategies, and amend land regulation that allows for the implementation of strategies that reduce housing costs.
SHIP funds can be used for the acquisition of properties to offer affordable housing, emergency repairs, rehabilitation and construction, fund federal and state housing and home repair grants, and counseling on homeownership.
Rent Assistance for Seniors in Florida
There are programs funded by local organizations and charities that can help you settle overdue rent expenses. They include:
Florida Emergency Financial Assistance Program (EFAHP): Older adult renters or homeowners struggling to pay rent or mortgages can apply for financial help from the Florida Emergency Financial Assistance Program. The program serves low-income Floridians at risk of eviction or foreclosure. The main objective of EFAHP is to reduce homelessness in this state by offering funds to local and non-profit organizations implementing programs that provide affordable housing and rent assistance to low-income households.
Florida Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Program: The Continuum of Care program funds programs whose goal is to end homelessness. These funds are awarded to non-profit organizations and local agencies that rehouse families and individuals facing financial or security challenges.
The CoC award Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) to help individuals solve their housing problems. The funds are allocated to programs that assist homeless individuals or households at risk of homelessness.
Home Repair Grants in Florida
Section 504 Home Repair Program: Popularly known as the Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants, offers grants worth $7,500 to help seniors to remove health and safety hazards in their homes. These funds can only be used for repairs and home improvements. You can use your grant to fix a new roof, replace a window or door, fix electrical problems, make your home more energy efficient, and improve accessibility and mobility if you are disabled.
Community Development Block Grants Program (CDBG): The Community Development Block Grants Program is run by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Funds are used for housing rehabilitation and neighborhood revitalization in the local communities. A few ways CDBG grants are used are:
- Building park facilities and community centers
- Improving the water and sewer system
- Rehabilitation of below-standard buildings
- Improving public amenities serving low-income communities
- Maintaining and improving infrastructure
Florida Weatherization Assistance Program: The Florida Weatherization Assistance Program offers grants for weather-related repairs. If you’d like to get an upgrade that will make your home more energy efficient, then this is the grant for you. Get financial assistance to buy or repair solar screens, hot water tanks, and attic ventilation.
To be eligible for this grant, you must be 50% below the poverty line and an elderly above 62.
Energy Star: Energy Star is a program run by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Department of Energy started to develop and provide energy-saving products that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
When you purchase your energy-efficient products with Energy Star, you will get Federal Income Tax Credits offered by the IRS. You will get credits on the purchase of the following products:
- Solar Energy Machinery
- Wind turbines
- Fuel cells
- Geothermally powered heat pumps
Church or Local Groups Assistance with Housing
Local groups and non-profit organizations can help seniors at risk of homelessness with shelter as part of their humanitarian activities.
Salvation Army: Salvation Army offers food, housing, clothes, and financial assistance to seniors and individuals in need. Depending on the availability of funds, you could receive cash incentives to cover rental and utility expenses. You can take a look at their website to see the services they offer that can be of assistance to you.
MorseLife Charity: MorseLife is a not-for-profit organization that has been serving the elderly for over 35 years. They offer affordable independent living, assisted living, and memory care. They are also the exclusive Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) providers in Palm Beach County.
Mission in Citrus Inc: Mission in Citrus offers one-year temporary housing for the homeless, especially veterans. In some cases, they can offer three-day emergency housing for anyone in need. The charity runs its shelters with funds provided by donors and well-wishers.
Serenity Grace Foundation: Serenity Grace Foundation’s mission is to fund organizations whose goals are to nurture, empower and inspire people in diverse communities. The foundation offers grants ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 to organizations with similar missions and goals as theirs.
You can find more non-profit organizations in Florida that help the homeless or those at risk of being homeless with housing assistance here.
Are there Low-Interest Loans for Housing for Seniors in Florida?
The good news for first-time home buyers, there are grants and loans you can apply for with low-interest rates. These government loan options only apply to primary residences and not vacation homes or investment properties. They include:
Federal Housing Loan: These loans are provided by the Federal Housing Administration, with a 3% down payment and individuals with a minimum of 580 credit score are eligible. The loans are subjected to mortgage insurance premiums unless refinanced to other loan types or paid off.
Veteran Assistant Loan: This is financial assistance offered to retired and active veterans with a 620 minimum credit score and requires a 0% down payment. These are the best mortgages available in the market.
USDA loan: These loans are offered to low-income earners looking to purchase homes in designated rural areas. You are required to have a minimum credit score of 640. No down payment is required.
Programs first-time home buyers can take advantage of in Florida include:
Florida Housing Program: The Florida Housing Finance Corporation provides loans to homebuyers seeking assistance with purchasing their dream home. The loans provided by this program include:
Florida Housing First Mortgage Loan Program: The program allocates 30-year loans at a fixed rate through private lenders. They also offer government-insured USDA, Veteran assistance, and Federal Housing Administration loans. To qualify for this loan, you must:
- Be a first-time homeowner: meaning you have to have occupied or owned a primary residence for 3 years before purchase.
- Be below Florida’s income limit
- Have a 640 minimum credit score
- Complete a homeowner education course
- Meet Florida’s purchase price limits
Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP): This program offers loans up to $10,000 at a 3% interest rate repayable monthly within five years. With this loan, if you transfer the deed or sell your house, you are required to pay the balance.
Florida Assist (FL Assist): The maximum loan limit is $10,000, with a 0% interest rate, and no monthly payments are required. This is a second mortgage you must pay back. In case you refinance, sell, or cease to occupy your home, your loan is due. Besides this, repayment can be deferred.
HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS Second Mortgage: This program is among the best fits for the elderly. You can borrow 3% to 5% of your loan amount with no interest rate. The catch is, your loan is forgiven at a rate of 20% per year, so after five years your second mortgage will be cleared. Just ensure that with whichever program you qualify for, you occupy your primary residence for at least 5 years.
Legal Assistance for Eviction
You can call the Florida Senior Legal Helpline to get any of your questions on housing and eviction answered. This is a not-for-profit law firm funded by the Florida Department of Elderly Affairs.
Florida Legal Aid (FLA) Eviction Prevention Project: The Florida Legal Aid (FLA) Eviction Prevention Project is a program by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that offers legal assistance to individuals facing eviction.
Housing in Florida is still a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. If you hit rock bottom, consider staying at a shelter for a while until you find your bearing again. There are numerous initiatives to help you with your housing challenges. You just have to visit Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs to get information on programs that can be of help to you.