Is Senior Affordable Housing Really Affordable?

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When older adult communities list their housing as “affordable”, what does that actually mean?

The term affordable generally refers to something that is reasonably priced and within the financial means of the intended consumers or target population. However, the exact definition can vary depending on context, location and the financial situation of individuals or households.

Such is the case in the older adult industry, which includes various communal living situations such as senior/independent living, assisted living, memory care, continual care retirement communities (CCRCs) and other types.

Here at Kavod Senior Life, we are all about transparency in housing costs, but since others may not be, we wanted to provide some helpful tips so housing seekers don’t get misled by the term in advertisements. Some ways the term gets misused is as follows:

  1. Unidentified Price Point: Some senior housing communities may advertise themselves as “affordable” without providing clear information about the actual costs involved. They may use the term to attract you, potential residents, without offering genuinely affordable options as defined by the median or average costs for what they offer in your city or neighborhood.
  2. High Additional Costs: While the base rent or purchase price of senior housing units may seem affordable, some communities may have additional fees and charges that significantly increase the overall cost. These fees could include amenities, maintenance, utilities, or services that are not included in the advertised price. In Kavod’s case, we are very open about our Assisted Living costs for apartments and the three add-on services we offer. In fact, you can check out pricing here!
  3. Income Restrictions: In some cases, as in Kavod’s Senior Living apartments, affordable actually refers to a housing classification in which the government (HUD) subsidizes rents based on income. Individuals with low or very low incomes are candidates for this type of housing. Older adults who may be in these categories can read through application details and ask about wait times to see if a affordable/subsidized apartment is right for them. Assisted Living at Kavod is not income restricted; individuals pay privately, but in Kavod’s case, may spend down to Medicaid within a year (on most units) and continue to receive Assisted Living care.
  4. Declining Affordability Over Time: In some senior housing communities, they may initially offer affordable rates but gradually increase prices over time, making it difficult for residents to afford their housing in the long term.
  5. Lack of Transparency: Similar to the first point, some senior housing communities may lack transparency in their pricing structures, making it unclear how they determine affordability or what factors contribute to the overall cost of living in the community.

These practices can lead to confusion and frustration among older individuals and their families who are seeking genuinely affordable housing options. Kavod Senior Life prides itself on sharing pricing, eligibility criteria, level of care available and any additional costs to ensure that housing seekers can make informed decisions about whether Kavod, especially our Assisted Living apartments, are right for them.

Want more information or a tour to learn more? Fill out our tour form. We’d love to see if our “affordable” Assisted Living community is right for YOU or your loved one!