Senior Housing

The information you will find in this section is intended to be a basic guide of the terminology and resources related to senior housing. To access in-depth information, tailored to your specific situation, please contact Columbia’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and ask for adult and elder care service. 

For additional resources in Manhattan, please refer to the guide that Scott Stringer's office has published - “Living Fully: Resources for Aging Well in the City” (PDF).

Types of Senior Housing

This is information derived from the New York State Office for the Aging.  Types of housing and their definitions will vary from state to state.

Accessory Apartment: A single family home is modified to include a complete private apartment using the garage, basement or other section. No licensure required.

Active Adult Community: Apartments, homes, condominiums, or cooperatives, restricted to senior citizens. May include amenities and recreational or social activities, but does not include supportive assistance, personal care or health care. No licensure required.

Adult Home: Units consist of private or shared rooms, and private or shared bathrooms. The operator provides meals, housekeeping, socialization activities, supportive services, supervision and personal care. Both rent and services are included in the monthly charge that might be paid with private resources or subsidized through SSI for those eligible. Licensed by the NYS Department of Health.

Assisted Living:  Provides housing, supportive services, case management, medication management, monitoring, supervision, personal care, and health related care to adult residents. There are four levels of assisted living, depending on the special needs of the individual. Services and care might be paid for with private resources or subsidized through SSI for those eligible. Requires licensure for enriched housing or adult homes operators.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC): Multiple-level complexes restricted to senior citizens. They include independent living units, social activities, dining program, supportive assistance, personal care and health related care, all in one campus (nursing home care might be included). Most complexes are built in suburban areas with various levels of housing and care. Residents pay a one-time entrance fee and monthly charges. In this setting, residents are guaranteed housing, supportive assistance, and an amount of nursing home care for life, under a single contract. Regulated by NYS CCRC Council.

Dementia Care Facility/Wing/Unit: Private rooms, studio apartments or full apartments, where all residents have some type of dementia condition. Increasingly, senior housing, supportive senior housing, and enriched housing, are converting a floor, unit or wing to accommodate seniors with dementia. Monthly charges might be paid with private resources or subsidized through SSI for those eligible. Licensed by the NYS Department of Health.

Elder Cottage (ECHO): Small home that is temporarily placed in the private lot that contains the main residence of another family member, utilizing services (water, electricity, etc) from the main home. No licensure required.

Enriched Housing: Independent apartments where a program operator provides meals, helps with shopping and homemaking, transportation, social activities, supervision, and personal care. Service can be provided at a family apartment building or at a senior housing building. Both rent and services are included in monthly charge that might be paid with private resources or subsidized through SSI for those eligible. Some operators may be licensed, which allows them to provide additional personal care and health-related services to residents.

Family Type Home: In this type of residence the homeowner provides supportive services, socialization, meals, supervision, and personal care to 4 or less adults. Rent and care are included in monthly charge that might be paid with private resources or subsidized through SSI program for those eligible. Requires operating certificate from NYS Office of Children and Family Services.

Housing and Care Complex: Multiple-level complexes restricted to senior citizens. They include independent living units, social activities, supportive assistance, congregate meals, personal care, health related care, and nursing home care, all in one campus. Each level of care is individually regulated by the NYS Health Department and residents are covered by separate agreements or contracts for each level and services.

Match-Up Home Sharing: In this type of residence the homeowner or renter with an extra room shares his home with the senior citizen in exchange for rent and/or assistance.  This type of residence is often operated by a community agency.  No licensure required.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC): Buildings or geographic areas that over time have evolved to include a significant proportion of senior citizens. There are two types of NORC: Building-based services programs and neighborhood-based services programs. In both cases, services may include meals, supportive assistance, recreation and social activities, and facilitated access to personal and health related services. Charges for these services are not included in rent, but may be financed through annual membership fees, discounted fees or publicly financed programs.  No licensure required.

Nursing Home: Skilled nursing services and chronic custodial care to people of all ages. May include private or shared rooms, and private/shared baths. Monthly charges can be covered with private resources or through Medicaid for those eligible. Requires licensure by the NYS Department of Health.

Senior Housing: Apartments, homes, condominiums, or cooperatives, restricted to senior citizens. Does not provide activities, supportive assistance, health care or personal care, or staff trained in aging issues, however, many have  added amenities. This is an alternative for seniors who need a supportive environment. Monthly charges do not include supportive, personal or health services. No licensure required.

Shared Living Residence: Home or apartment shared by a small group of unrelated persons, who share living expenses and housekeeping tasks. Residents have private bedrooms and share common areas. This type of residence is usually owned or sponsored by a community organization, and seniors pay monthly charges to cover for rent, utilities, food and upkeep.  No licensure required.

Supportive Senior Housing: Buildings or cottages restricted to senior citizens. Units are purposely built to include the provision of amenities, recreational and socialization activities, and supportive assistance (such as housekeeping, laundry, meals, transportation). Monthly charges typically include the package of supportive services. No licensure required.

General Guidelines

There are many types of housing arrangements available for senior citizens, which range from adapting a home to living in communities with daily living support and amenities. Before making a choice, you should assess present needs and try to visualize future needs, as they will change in time.

These questions might help you when assessing a move to a facility:

•Will your family member need to move to another care arrangement at sometime in the future?
•Are these facilities available in the community, and how much will they cost?
•How are you going to pay for housing and services, now and in the future?
•If the housing facility requires substantial deposit at the time of admission, will some of the money be returned if your relative decides to leave?
•What guarantees do you have that the facility is financially secure?
•Is the housing facility licensed?
•What living conditions and services does the program offer?
•Will the program meet your relative’s current health and safety needs, and those you may anticipate?
•Who will decide what services your relative receives?
•How much independence will he or she have?
•What are your relative’s legal rights if he or she disagrees with the facility?

Based on “Housing Options for Seniors.” Document created by Harris, Rothenberg International, Inc.


Affordable Senior Housing*

Based on information from the New York City Department of the Aging

Market Rate Housing with Services: Studios or one bedroom apartments with a basic package of services. Services usually include light housekeeping, linen service, social programs, and two or three meals daily served in a congregate dining room. Additional personal and home health services might be available, such as services for individuals with dementia. Some of these residences are certified by NYS as Enriched Housing Programs or Adult Homes, but many are not licensed.

Mitchell-Lama Housing:  Subsidized rental and cooperative apartments developed for individuals of all ages, which have developed a small portion exclusively for senior citizens. Does not provide supportive services, but some residences have limited services such as transportation, social services, and leisure activities. This type of residence is overseen by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal or the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Public Housing: Independent, rent subsidized apartments available for low and moderate income individuals of all ages. Most of these developments are not specifically reserved for senior citizens. This type of housing is built and managed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

Section 202 Housing:  Studios and one bedroom apartments available for senior citizens. The services provided vary depending on the residence, ranging from none to a full complement of support services such as daily congregate meal, housekeeping, transportation, and social services. Residents pay 30% of their income for rent, with federal subsidies covering the balance of the unit's fair market price. This is the main source of subsidized, low-income housing for seniors in New York City and it is federally funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Single Room Occupancy (SRO): One-room unit, often with a shared bathroom and/or kitchen. This type of residence is developed for individuals of all ages, but some accept the senior citizens as the primary population. Some residences offer supportive services for residents with special needs, including the mentally ill, homeless or people with AIDS-related illnesses.  This is a subsidized alternative for low income and very low income individuals.

* For more information on affordable housing please visit the Affordable Housing section.  


AARP Caregiving Resource Center

Includes various articles, videos, and general resources regarding housing options for senior citizens.

Age-Friendly NYC

The Age-friendly New York City Commission is composed of public and private sector leaders from a wide range of industries, organizations and institutions in New York City who are dedicated to making the city a better place for older adults. There are a variety of reports, research and tools listed on the website that better enables older adults to engage with the city in which they live.

Assisted Living Directory

Provides a detailed listing of assisted living facilities, organized by state, and then by city.

Assisted Living Federation of America

This organization is the national association dedicated to professionally-operated assisted living communities for seniors. Its website provides many resources for seniors and their families who are interested in learning more about assisted living or finding a residence.

Best of the Web Senior Housing
The BOTW Senior Housing Directory offers a variety of tools to research assisted living and retirement homes in your local community. The site helps investigate Alzheimer’s care, assisted living, independent living, and in-home care. 

Bloomingdale Aging in Place (BAiP)

BAiP has useful information about continuing to live at home as long as possible. If you or a loved one needs a friendly visit or a helping hand – e.g., assistance with errands, escort to a medical appointment, contact Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) by calling 212-842-8831, and press 1, or email

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Provides information for Senior Citizens regarding living arrangements, health insurance, financial resources, among others.


Located at 171 West 85th Street, DOROT provides in-home services for the frail elderly, including home delivered frozen meals. There are also wellness programs, shopping and escorting services, arts and culture, and holiday celebrations. Visit their website, or calling 212-769-2850 to learn more.

Elder Care Locator

A public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging.  The site offers a searchable list of elder care facilities and organizations.

Elder Care Link

Free referral service that helps you find everything from Home Care and Assisted Living to Financial Planning and Personal Emergency Responses.

Columbia’s Employee Assistance Program

There are two ways to use the EAP for adult and elder care resources. You can log into their website and look under “Older Adults” to access the older adult library, the search engine for adult care locations and online resources; or you can contact the EAP directly at 888-673-1153. This service can give you country-wide adult and elder care information.

Please Note: Students are not eligible for EAP services.

Leading Age

The work of Leading Age is focused on advocacy, leadership development, and applied research and promotion of effective services, home health, hospice, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care communities, nursing homes, as well as technology solutions, to seniors, children, and others with special needs. Their website contains a search tool for senior housing around the United States.  

Metropolitan Council on Housing
The Met Council is a membership organization dedicated to preserving and expanding New York City’s supply of decent, affordable housing. This website provides information about senior citizen rent increase exemption (SCRIE) affordable housing, special tenant’s rights for seniors, and eviction prevention and Adult Protective Services (APS). 

Morningside Village

Morningside Village was created to support senior citizens who want to age in their own homes and need help, by organizing volunteers who can help with shopping, home management, errands, and other various activities. This organization serves seniors living in the area bordered by West 108th Street, Riverside Drive, West 118th Street, and Morningside Drive.

New York City Department of the Aging, Senior Services, Senior Housing

This website lists subsidized low income and very low income senior housing sites for the five boroughs of New York City.

NYC Freeze Your Rent Program

The NYC Rent Freeze Program, which includes the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Program, helps those eligible stay in affordable housing by freezing their rent.

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, Inc.

NYFSC is dedicated to helping New York's seniors enjoy helthier, safer, more productive and dignified lives in their own homes and communities and to help them avoid premature institutionalization.

One of the ways this is accomplished is helping senior citizens find the ideal person through Home Sharing.  Home Sharing matches adult "hosts", living throughout New York City's five boroughts, who have excess space in their homes or apartments to share with responsible, compatible adult "guests" in need of housing.  One of the "matchmates" must be age 60 or over.  Our very successful Home Sharing Program helps relieve financial hardship, fellings of loneliness and promotes companionship.

Home Sharing Service is free.  Trained professionals provide matching services for interested applicants.

For more information, call (212) 962-7559, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

New York State Association of Area Agencies on Aging

The mission of the Association is to support and enhance the capacity of New York’s local Area Agencies on Aging and to work in collaboration with the aging network to promote independence, preserve dignity, and advocate on the behalf of aging New Yorkers and their families.

New York State Housing Guide for Seniors

This PDF outlines the variety of housing benefits and programs available to seniors in New York State.

New York State Office of the Aging

This website provides rich information about aging services and supports available in New York for the elderly and caregiver alike including housing options, driver safety information, adult day services, and more. Offices of the Aging are found in all states across the country.

NORC Blueprint

Sponsored by the United Hospital Fund, NORC Blueprint offers a guide and multiple resources on developing and maintaining Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC).

Seeks to provide a comprehensive free resource to educate the public on the many aspects of nursing home injury and abuse and the steps to take to protect a loved one.  

Project Find

Project Find provides senior New Yorkers with the services and supports they need to live enriched, independent lives on Manhattan’s West Side. Their affordable housing is home for over 600 low and moderate income seniors, while their senior centers provide recreation, counseling and meals to thousands of New Yorkers.

Senior Homes  

Senior Homes publishes a free, highly referenced resource for researching senior living and support arrangements.  A guidance team is also available by phone as well.  

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

A variety of information is provided about laws and regulations, retirement planning and security, as well as caregiver resources and different types of long-term care.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Information specifically targeted for senior citizens and their housing needs is available on HUD’s website. 

* For more information about resources for senior citizens please visit the Adult and Elder Care section.

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