Housing Assistance for Seniors in South Carolina

South Carolina is considered a senior-friendly state because:

  • Tax benefits: South Carolina is one of the states that does not tax Social Security benefits. Additionally, the state has a relatively low-income tax rate, and seniors may be eligible for other tax credits and exemptions.
  • Affordable cost of living: The cost of living in South Carolina is generally lower than the national average. This means that seniors can stretch their retirement savings further and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.
  • Access to healthcare: South Carolina has a high number of healthcare providers per capita, including many specialists. The state also has several highly regarded hospitals and medical facilities.
  • Mild climate: The climate in South Carolina is generally mild, with warm summers and mild winters. This makes it an attractive destination for seniors who want to avoid harsh winter weather.
  • Senior services and programs: South Carolina offers a range of services and programs designed to help seniors age in place, including home care services, transportation programs, and meal delivery services.

Taking a look at the cost of living in South Carolina, is considered low since it is below the nation’s average. The state has a cost of living index of 89.3, which is 1.03 times less expensive than the nation’s average. It is ranked as the 32nd most expensive state in the USA. The average monthly income is $3974, which is sufficient to cover basic living expenses and leave some change for recreational activities.

Shifting our focus to housing, the housing cost of living index is 92.60, with the median cost of a home being $259,900, lower than the nation’s cost of $338,100. Seniors may face a challenge in terms of housing according to recent statistics.

First, the life expectancy is lower than the nation’s average, currently sitting at 77 years. Seniors above 55 in South Carolina are less likely to work explaining why the annual-average income of senior-led households is low. The medium household income for homes run by seniors above 65 is $41,256 which is $2,479 less than the national average. Only 29.1% of seniors above 55 are part of the labor force, compared to the national average of 40.80%.

Despite the affordable cost of living in South Carolina, seniors are not financially capable to afford safe and up-to-standard housing due to a lack of adequate income. A one-bedroom apartment will cost you $634 a month, while a two-bedroom one costs $767. Home healthcare costs will have you part with $3,623 a month. An adult daycare facility cost $1,192 monthly, which does not include round-the-clock care.

For older adults considering nursing home facilities, it will cost you $6,418 per month for a semi-private room and $6,844 for a fully private room. These figures may change depending on the location and services offered by the facility.

Older adults who may be unable to afford to house can seek assistance from the state or other local organizations that assist low to moderate-income earners at risk of homelessness. Some programs offer rental assistance, home repair grants, low-interest loans for housing, and legal help to seniors facing foreclosure and eviction.

Housing Options

In terms of long-term care, South Carolina is ranked 38th in comparison to the other states. There are a variety of housing options for seniors in this state to choose from.

  • Independent living: The percentage of seniors living alone is 26% which makes it important to have comfortable housing options to ensure older adults stay in their homes as long as possible. If you are healthy and active and do not require round-the-clock care, then this option is for you.

If you have a small budget for housing consider homes in the Florence area, and if your budget is hefty, you can consider staying in the Hilton-Head-Island-Bluffton-Beaufort area.

  • Retirement Communities: Retiring to South Carolina is not a bad idea, considering 14% of its population is seniors. You can consider living in 55+ or 65+ senior apartments that encourage socialization and reduce isolation among seniors.
  • Assisted Living: This option is similar to independent living but comes with extra services like caregivers and healthcare services. You will receive transport assistance, housekeeping, laundry, and meal services.
  • Memory care: These are housing options for the elderly with dementia-related ailments.
  • Nursing homes: These options include adult day cares, respite care, and hospice care facilities that take care of all senior needs while still keeping them close to their families.

The living option you go for depends on your needs and budget, so pick one that works best for you and is the perfect match for what you’re looking for.

State Assistance

The state runs programs that provide housing assistance to seniors in terms of affordable housing and emergency shelter to those in need. These programs include:

  • Family Independence Program: This program provides temporary financial assistance to eligible low-income families, including senior-headed households, to help them with basic needs such as housing, utilities, and food.

Rental Assistance

South Carolina Housing Choice Voucher Program-Section 8: This is a federally run program for low-income households with economic challenges that pay 70% of the rent on homes or apartments eligible citizens will choose to reside in. The homes must meet the program’s eligibility criteria.

South Carolina Emergency Rental Assistance Program: Older citizens above 55 can get up to $1,500 in rental assistance through this program funded by the South Carolina Housing and Finance Development Authority.

Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption Program: This program provides an exemption from certain rent increases for low-income seniors who live in rental housing.

South Carolina Housing Trust Fund: It provides funding for affordable housing developments and rental assistance to low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.

Home Repair and Improvement Grants

The home repair grants available to seniors to increase the accessibility and safety of their homes include:

  • The USDA Rural Development program offers grants and loans for eligible homeowners in rural areas to make necessary repairs and improvements to their homes. Seniors may be eligible for these grants.
  • The South Carolina Department of Aging offers the Home and Community-Based Services Program, which provides grants for home repairs and modifications to eligible seniors who wish to remain living in their homes.
  • The South Carolina Housing Trust Fund offers grants to eligible homeowners for home repairs, including seniors. Eligibility is based on income and the type of repair needed.
  • The South Carolina Appalachian Council of Governments offers a grant program for low-income homeowners who are 62 years or older. The program provides grants of up to $7,500 for home repairs.
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides grants to help low-income households, including seniors, with home energy costs, such as heating and cooling expenses.
  • The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs offers grants to eligible individuals with disabilities or special needs for home modifications and repairs, including seniors.
  • The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit: This federally funded project funds home improvements which allow for energy efficiency. It allows for a 25% tax credit from the final cost of a new renewable energy system on residential and commercial properties.
  • Operation One Touch: This is a program available to low-income residents looking to cover home improvement expenses offered to residents of Richland County. You can get a forgivable loan of up to $12,000 if you are eligible for the said grant.
  • Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grantsor Section 504: Individuals looking to address foundational repairs get a maximum of $7,500 in grants if they are above 62 years. You can use grants to make repairs that remove health and safety hazards from your home.
  • South Carolina Safe Home Program: The program offers funds for home repairs that pose a threat to one’s housing status. You can use the funds for roof repairs, window installations, and improvements to resist extreme weather damage.

Local Organizations and Charities that Help with Housing

Local organizations and charities have also joined the fight against homelessness as part of their humanitarian services. Some of the non-profit agencies that can be of help to seniors looking for assistance with housing include:

  1. The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: This organization provides emergency shelter and other housing-related services to seniors and other individuals who are fleeing domestic violence or sexual assault.
  2. The South Carolina State Housing Authority: This agency provides resources and information about affordable housing options for seniors, including rental assistance, public housing, and other programs.
  3. AARP South Carolina: This organization provides information and resources to help seniors live independently in their homes, including tips for home safety and mobility, as well as information about housing options and home modifications.
  4. The Salvation Army: This organization provides emergency housing and assistance to seniors and other individuals in need. They also offer transitional housing programs for seniors who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
  5. Habitat for Humanity: This organization provides affordable housing to low-income families and seniors through its homeownership program. They also offer home repair and renovation services to eligible homeowners.
  6. South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority: This organization provides resources and information about affordable housing options for seniors, including rental and homeownership opportunities. They also offer programs for homebuyers, renters, and homeowners.
  7. South Carolina Association of Community Action Partnerships: This organization provides a variety of services to seniors, including housing assistance, energy assistance, and financial counseling.
  8. South Carolina Department on Aging: This state agency provides a range of services to seniors, including housing assistance, home-delivered meals, transportation, and caregiver support.
  9. Local Area Agencies on Aging: Several local agencies on aging in South Carolina assist seniors with housing-related issues. These agencies can help connect seniors with affordable housing options, provide information about home repair programs, and offer other services that can help seniors live independently in their homes.
  10. The South Carolina Community Loan Fund: This organization provides financing and technical assistance to organizations that develop affordable housing and community facilities, including those that serve seniors.

Low-Interest Loans for Housing

Here are low-interest loans you can qualify for to assist with housing needs:

  • The Home Improvement Loan Program (HILP): This program is offered by the South Carolina Department of Social Services and provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners for home repairs, including seniors. The program is designed for low-income individuals and families and has flexible repayment terms.
  • The EnergySaver Loan Program: This program, offered by the South Carolina State Credit Union, provides low-interest loans to homeowners for energy-efficient upgrades to their homes. This can include upgrades such as insulation, HVAC systems, and water heaters, which can help seniors reduce their energy costs and improve the comfort of their homes.
  • The Reverse Mortgage Program: This program allows seniors to convert a portion of their home equity into cash without having to sell their homes or make monthly payments. The loan is repaid when the borrower moves out of the home or passes away. This program can provide seniors with additional income to cover housing-related expenses or other costs.
  • Homeownership Assistance for Moderate Income (HAMI) program provides low-interest mortgages to eligible seniors to help them purchase a home.
  • Palmetto Heroes program is run by SC Housing and it awards low-interest mortgage loans to eligible veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and teachers.

Some cities in South Carolina also provide loans to their senior residents to help improve the accessibility and affordability of homes in these areas. Some common ones are:

City of Columbia: The City of Columbia offers the Homebuyer Assistance Program, which provides low-interest loans to eligible homebuyers, including seniors. The program can be used to purchase a home within the city limits of Columbia and assists with down payment and closing costs.

City of Charleston: The City of Charleston offers the Homeownership Initiative, which provides down payment assistance and low-interest loans to eligible homebuyers, including seniors. The program can be used to purchase a home within the city limits of Charleston.

City of Greenville: The City of Greenville offers the Housing Trust Fund, which provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners and renters, including seniors. The program can be used to finance the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of affordable housing.

City of North Charleston: The City of North Charleston offers the Homeownership Program, which provides down payment assistance and low-interest loans to eligible homebuyers, including seniors. The program can be used to purchase a home within the city limits of North Charleston.

City of Spartanburg: The City of Spartanburg offers the Housing Rehabilitation Program, which provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, including seniors, for home repairs and improvements. The program can be used to repair or replace major systems, such as plumbing and electrical, or to make improvements to the home’s energy efficiency.

City of Rock Hill: The City of Rock Hill offers the Down Payment Assistance Program, which provides down payment assistance and low-interest loans to eligible homebuyers, including seniors. The program can be used to purchase a home within the city limits of Rock Hill.

Legal Assistance for Eviction

It is important to know your rights as a senior in South Carolina, especially those related to housing and renting. There are legal organizations that offer education on legal matters surrounding housing that can be beneficial to older adults who are prone to scams. You can also get free legal services, counsel, and advocacy when facing foreclosure and eviction.

  1. South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) provides free legal representation to low-income individuals, including seniors, who are facing eviction. SCLS can assist with negotiating with landlords, defending eviction cases in court, and providing legal advice on tenants’ rights.
  2. South Carolina Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program provides free legal services to low-income individuals, including seniors, in certain types of cases, including eviction cases.
  3. AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) – AARP LCE is a legal advocacy organization that provides free legal services to low-income individuals aged 60 and older. They may be able to assist with eviction-related legal matters, such as negotiating with landlords or representing tenants in court.
  4. South Carolina Access to Justice Commission – The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission is a statewide organization that works to increase access to legal services for low-income individuals, including seniors. They provide a directory of legal aid organizations in the state that offer assistance with various legal matters, including evictions.
  5. SeniorLAW Center – SeniorLAW Center is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income seniors in South Carolina. They may be able to assist with eviction-related matters, as well as other legal issues affecting seniors.

The elderly can receive different kind of housing-related assistance to make sure they stay in safe and secure homes. This article provides some guidance on where to look when trying to get assistance with housing in South Carolina.