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How Seniors Can Access Public Housing in NYC

A housing guide for senior residents in NYC

The elderly population in New York City is about 1.64 million, which is expected to reach 1.86 million, or 20.6% of the city’s population in 2040. To ensure that senior citizens have an affordable and decent place to live, New York City provides a variety of housing options for the elderly, including affordable housing, public housing, nursing homes and assisted living housing, among others. 

Additionally, New York City has launched rental freeze programs for senior citizens, such as the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), to protect their housing rights. Regardless of your immigration status, you can access services from New York City Department for the Aging and other city agencies. This article introduces housing options and related policies for seniors living in New York City, as part of Documented’s comprehensive resource guide for immigrants in New York.

Housing for low-income seniors

New York City provides affordable housing for low-income seniors aged 62 and above who reside in the city. You can call for information, but you need to provide a daytime phone number or email address for follow-up. Seniors applying for housing must provide income information to determine eligibility for specific housing opportunities. Although the Department for the Aging can provide seniors with a list of affordable housing and information on the application process, the agency does not find apartments for seniors.

Also Read: How to Apply for Affordable Housing in NYC

You may call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) for more information. You can also review our Affordable Housing Application Guide for eligibility and steps.

Housing for frail or cognitively impaired or disabled seniors

If you are a senior aged 60 and above living in New York City who is frail or has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or a disability, you have the following housing options that provide personal care or health care services to residents.

Your housing options include:

  • Nursing homes: Nursing homes are facilities that provide long-term residency for seniors who do not need hospitalization but require 24-hour care and supervision. These seniors have stable medical conditions and need high-intensity daily care, such as getting in and out of bed, dressing, etc. Moving to a nursing home is generally considered a more long-term relocation than temporarily residing in a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation, and may result in a loss of autonomy.
  • Assisted Living: Assisted living provides personal care and home health services for eligible residents in licensed adult homes or certified enriched housing in New York State. Services include three meals a day, housekeeping, social activities, home care, intermittent nursing care, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and adult day care. Residents generally meet the criteria for admission to a nursing home but require less intensive and less expensive medical care.
  • Adult homes: Long-term residency facilities that offer single or shared rooms but lack cooking facilities. These facilities provide a range of services such as three daily meals, housekeeping, personal care, social activities, and round-the-clock supervision. However, they do not offer any nursing or healthcare services.
  • Enriched Housing: This program offers personal care and support services to seniors residing in non-profit or government-subsidized apartment buildings. To be eligible, the apartments must have at least one facility with an efficiency-type kitchen standard. Services provided include light personal care, social activities, shopping assistance, housekeeping, one or two congregate meals per day, part-time supervision, and care management. However, they do not offer nursing or healthcare services. In New York City, the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens (NYFSC) operates the Enrichment Housing Program. To learn more about the program, please visit their website or contact them at 212-369-5523.

How to choose an appropriate residence from the options above depends on the senior’s needs, health status and financial situation. You can call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) for more information. You must provide your daytime phone number or email address so that the Department for the Aging can follow up with you and provide you with detailed information about different options and referral to facilities.

Home Sharing Program

The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens (NYFSC) offers a free home-sharing program that matches seniors who need housing with people who have extra space in their homes and are willing to enroll seniors as roommates so they can share homes. At least one of the matching parties must be 60 or older.

The matching process is safe and reliable, and professional social workers will screen both parties. The program also provides services for seniors aged 55 and older who are willing to take in developmentally disabled adults as tenants who can live independently. Those interested in taking in a roommate or becoming a roommate can visit this webpage for details and to apply. You can also call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) for more information.

Public Housing Lottery

You can also participate in the public housing lottery if you or at least one person in your household who lives with you is a U.S. citizen or eligible immigrant. However, the waiting time for this program is longer. For details, please refer to our public housing application guide.

In addition to the above-mentioned programs, New York City also has relevant policies to protect the housing rights of the elderly.

Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) 

Eligible seniors who reside in rent-regulated apartments can take advantage of the NYC Rent Freeze Program to freeze their rent and avoid most future increases. If you are 62 or older, live in a rent-regulated apartment and pay more than one-third of your monthly income in rent, you can apply for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE).

If your application is approved, your rent will be frozen at the higher of your previous legal rent amount or one-third of your gross monthly household income. Landlords whose tenants are participants in the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption Program will receive a property tax credit (TAC), which will be reduced by the amount of the rent increase that the tenant does not pay. For details, please visit this webpage. You can also call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) to inquire. Please visit this page for an online application.

Free legal services for tenants

Regardless of your immigration status, if you are a tenant facing eviction in housing court or New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administrative proceedings, you can get free legal representation or counseling from legal services organizations. You can call the Housing Court Answers hotline at 718-557-1379 or 212-962-4795 from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, or call 311 to for the Tenant Helpline, or email to civiljustice@hra.nyc.gov and provide your name, phone number, and a Housing Court case index number for your eviction case (if you have one). 

For details, please visit this page. If you need language assistance, please say the target language to the operator and you will be transferred to a language line.

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