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How to Find Low-Income Senior Housing in Memphis


The cost of living in many areas has become so high that many seniors find it difficult to find affordable housing. As a direct result of these cost of living increases, many older Americans find it challenging to locate housing that is appropriate for their aging needs but cheap enough to afford. In addition, the high cost of living forces many senior back into the workforce to be able to supplement their incomes when economical options can’t be located.

As our bodies age there usually comes a time when physical limitations cause a senior to greatly reduce their working hours or cease to work all together. Because of this, many seniors are often forced to retire before they have put back enough money to sustain them in the future. And, without the income, a senior’s options for affordable living diminishes. That’s why finding a low-income senior apartment can be so important to those aging adults that have a limited income.

Thankfully, the cost of living in Memphis, Tennessee is about 15% lower than the national average. Unfortunately, the average income is about 30% lower than the US average. Memphis is the 23rd most populous city in the United States, and about 13% of its citizens are age 65 or older, and 14% of those seniors are considered poor.

It is for cities like Memphis that the US Housing and Urban Development crafted several programs that offer senior citizens affordable housing across the country. Among others, these initiatives offer funding for home ownership, rent assistance, and assisted services for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

This article hopes to serve as a guide for those seeking low-income housing in Memphis. Among others, it will discuss the benefits of aged living in Memphis, TN, plus the programs that its residents can explore to find good housing options. If you'd like, you can skip ahead if there is a specific topic you are looking for:



Is Memphis a good place for seniors to live?

If you are interested in locating a senior apartment in Tennessee you may be wondering this. In fact, Memphis is the No. 2 destination for people aged 54-63 to move to when they age. There are many reasons that people move when they reach retirement age or when they become older. Often this has more to do with family ties rather than location and amenities, but sometimes seniors move to a location that is more populated to seek services that are not available in a smaller, more rural area. But why should a senior specifically choose Memphis, TN to move to? They often choose this area because of:


Pleasant Climate

Memphis has a subtropical climate with a mild, short winter. It is great for older people who do not like the cold. A shorter winter is also good for the health of older people. This is because cold weather can cause health issues for older people. Snow and ice are also not good for senior citizens as they can cause slips and falls.

Low Cost of Living

The housing expenses in Memphis are lower than the national average by 34%, so there are several Memphis low income senior housing options they can find. Transportation cost is also lower in Memphis by 11% and the grocery cost is lower by 9% compared to the national average. Many senior citizens choose Memphis because it is affordable, even for those with low incomes.          

Favorable Tax Rate

If you are interested on reducing your tax rate then you may want to know that Memphis does not collect any income tax. This is especially important for those aging seniors that need to work into their later years. It also has the second lowest state and local tax so purchases tend to cost less overall. This setup is great for senior citizens with low incomes because it greatly reduces their taxes which can increase the amount of income they can live on.

Top Quality Health System

The health care system in Memphis  is highly rated for its care of cardiac issues and several hospitals have also been given distinctions for having great overall health care performance. A good quality health system is important for senior citizens who may already have some health issues and need access to quality care. Living in an area like Memphis, Tennessee that is known for superior medical care can help give families and caregivers peace of mind knowing that their family member will be cared for by highly qualified and trained health workers.


What are the Types of Memphis Low Cost Senior Housing?

Although housing expenses in Memphis are lower than the national average, they can still eat up a chunk of a senior’s income. As such, it’s a good thing that there are Memphis subsidized senior housing programs they can look into. These are programs administered by the government to help senior citizens who can’t afford to pay standard rent amounts.

Essentially, there are three types of senior housing assistance programs:


Section 202 Supportive Housing Program

A study conducted in 2011 found that 1.47 million American senior citizen renters have trouble paying rent. It is for this reason that the Section 202 program was created. This program, which is available in states throughout the U.S., can be used to provide Memphis low cost senior housing options to those that need affordable senior housing.

While the amenities and exact services may vary depending on the housing community, all must follow HUD’s safe living standards and most will provide secure entry, wearable alert devices, and elevators in multi-level buildings. Through this program, the HUD provides loans to private and non-profit organizations to construct low income senior living apartments in Memphis. These senior apartments also provide rent subsidies that reimburse the property owner in exchange for providing below market rental units. 


What Do Affordable Senior Apartments Have to Offer?

These housing units are typically one-bedroom apartments complete with a kitchen, bath, bedroom and eating area. They typically have features like ramps and grab bars. These apartments may also have access to public transportation, may help the tenants sign up for home-delivered meal programs, and help to locate health care service programs that the senior may be eligible for.


Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, one must be 62 years old or older. Applicants can live alone or live with a spouse or another senior citizen that is also at least 62 years old. Adult children may also live with an elderly parent if they can prove that they provide full-time care for the senior and that care is deemed necessary by a physician. However, their income will be added to the household income which may decrease the senior’s ability to qualify. Overall, the entire household’s income must be considered to be a very low household income, which is no more than 50% of the area’s average income. The average age for Memphis residents in this program is 79 and the yearly income average is $10,018.


How Can Seniors Apply?

To learn more about the benefits of Section 202 assistance, applicants should first contact the senior housing community that they want to live in. From there, they can ask for the next steps that they should do. However, an important thing to note is that there can be long waiting lists at communities that are closer to services like shopping, transportation, and medical care. Special priority can be given to those seniors that may be destitute, but that is up to the community manager to determine.


What are the things to look for in Section 202 housing?

Some of the basic things one should be looking at when searching for low income senior housing options are that there is adequate space for the senior’s needs. Applicants should ask if there are emergency response systems in place. If the person has a pet, then he or she should know if the landlord allows pets. They should also enquire about the local area; is the crime high, is there public transportation available, are shops nearby, how far off are medical providers.


Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Although the LIHTC is a good option for low-income seniors, this program was not specifically crafted with senior citizens in mind. This federally funded program was designed to ensure that all low-income people have access to affordable housing. LIHTC subsidizes the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of rental housing for low-income tenants.

While it is not made specifically for senior citizens, there are many LIHTC properties that are available as housing options for the elderly. These properties are owned and managed by both private and non-profit organizations. The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) oversees this tax credit program but HUD administers it. 

Who is Eligible for LIHTC?

The requirements differ depending on the community and the average income of the surrounding area. If the whole community or just a portion of the community is set aside for senior residents then the usual minimum age in a LIHTC community ranges from 55 to 62. Those who tend to be eligible for this program must usually have an income that is between 30% and 60% lower than the area’s median (average) income. Some units will be available for the higher income households and other units will be available to the lower income households. Each individual unit will have a separate household income cap and the tenant for the unit must match that income threshold.

What if a Senior Tenant has Assets?

 If a senior has assets, like valuable belongings or even a family home, the assets they own are not counted toward qualifying, only the senior’s income will be judged. Income alone is the main factor that will determine their eligibility. However, there are also other factors toward eligibility to consider, like criminal record, credit history, and the ability to get along well with management and neighbors. A senior who may financially qualify can be rejected if they have a history of being abusive, being drunk and disorderly, or of abandoning a property in the past without paying final rent.

How is LIHTC Rent Determined?

Typically a senior tenant’s rent is based on the unit that they select. Each unit will be given an income threshold and that unit’s rent amount is set at a fixed rate established specifically for a tenant at a specific income level. For example, the unit may be set to rent to only those in the 40% income bracket. So, anyone making more will not be eligible. Those who make 40% (which is less than half) of the area’s average income would be eligible. Since the unit is set to rent to only those at the 40% income bracket, the rent amount would be set at an appropriate level for that unit. If the renter makes more during the year, the rent is not adjusted up. However, the tenant may no longer qualify for the unit the next year if they make too much more.

What is it Like in an LIHTC Community?

Those who are interested in qualifying for a low income senior apartment in Memphis, Tennessee’s LIHTC communities can only live in apartments with the number of bedrooms appropriate for their household size. It is important to keep in mind that many of these apartment units are not specifically built for senior citizens and are usually unfurnished. When looking for a LIHTC community for a senior resident it is usually better to seek out apartments that have been built for those who are 55 and older, there are LIHTC properties of this nature.


The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and Seniors

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is commonly referred to as the Section 8 program or just Section 8. In these Section 8 Memphis low income apartments, senior citizens can live in a reasonable safety. But be aware, this program is not a senior-specific program and can be utilized by a family household, a single household, or a senior household. Through this program, the federal government pays a portion of the tenant’s rent, and the payment is directly sent to the landlord.

Who is Eligible for Section 8 in Memphis?

The program is open to anyone with a very low income and a housing need. To be eligible, a household’s income must not be more than 50% of the area’s median income. There are also strict guidelines that resident and applicants must adhere to. For example, a resident can’t have a violent criminal history, a history of not paying rent, or a history of property damage.

How to Apply and Locate Section 8 Senior Housing

The renter can choose a place that suits them best by checking with a local Public Housing Authority (PHA) to obtain the housing lists within that PHA. Many Section 8 Housing Authority communities have been built by and are managed by the local area’s PHA. Ultimately, a resident is responsible for finding suitable housing for themselves in whatever area they are interested in living. A nice benefit of the Housing Voucher is that if a household decides to move to another unit or home, the HCV moves with them as long as they remain within the area where they received the voucher. A qualified household that has been given a housing voucher can continue using it as long as they still qualify for the program. Every participant is evaluated annually to determine if they still qualify for the program.

The landlords also have to be vetted by HUD, as well as the property they rent out. The properties must meet minimal quality standards set by the HUD to be safe, sanitary and decent.

How to Find Section 8 Open Enrollment in Memphis?

Finding open enrollment in a populated area is not easy and not all landlords accept HCV tenants. Tenants must look for rentals that have been accepted into the Section 8 program. The law strictly prohibits tenant discrimination so landlords must accept tenants who are under the HCV program if the landlord’s property is within the Section 8 program . They can’t also charge tenants under HCV higher rent compared to someone that is not a HCV renter. Moreover, they also can’t change their screening process to disqualify an applicants under HCV.


Other Considerations About Low Income Senior Apartments in Memphis.

Aside from the types of programs that are available and the cost of living in and around Memphis, TN senior residents really need to make sure that all things have been considered when selecting a senior apartment. Take the time to walk around the neighborhood and speak with neighbors about the safety of the area and the community. Also take the time to explore viable transportation accommodations to ensure that transportation needs will be met. Also take the time to ensure that resources like medical providers and grocery stores are within a manageable distance.


Tips in finding affordable senior housing

Finding a good low-income senior apartment can sometimes be difficult. However, there are tips that one can follow to help make their search easier.

Looking for Section 8 in Memphis?

You can call the Public Housing Authority directly to begin the process. Keep in mind though, that open enrollment is not available directly within Memphis so applicants will need to select an area outside of city center to apply.

Search for Senior Living in Memphis, TN Online

The internet is one of the best places to start one’s house hunting adventure. Although one can key in “Memphis low income senior living near me” and it will certainly yield a lot of results, the better option is to use Senioridy to locate low income senior housing near you. Applicants can then reach out directly to the property manager by calling the number on each of Senioridy’s listing.

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