Senior Citizen Housing


There are many types of housing arrangements available for senior citizens, and 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. 

Please see below for more information on: 


General Guidelines

Considerations when assessing a move to a facility:
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Types of Senior Housing

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Licensure is not required.

A 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.

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. Licensure is not required.

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

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

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Affordable Senior Housing

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. 


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.

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).

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).


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. 



Argentum 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.

Assisted Living Directory provides a detailed listing of assisted living facilities, organized by state, and then by city.

AssistedLiving.Org is dedicated to assisting seniors and their families in navigating the complexities of finding suitable living arrangements.

The Best of the Web 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. 

The Metropolitan Council on Housing 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). 

The NYC Freeze Your Rent 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 is dedicated to helping New York's seniors enjoy healthier, 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 boroughs, who have excess space in their homes or apartments to share with responsible, compatible adult "guests" in need of housing. 

This HUD site outlines a variety of housing benefits and programs available to seniors in New York State.

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

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.

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


This content is provided for informational purposes only.
Listing of the websites above does not constitute a recommendation of these websites nor is the accuracy of the information listed in these websites verified by the Office of Work/Life.
Columbia University does not assume any responsibility in connection with any of these websites, and recommends that any information listed therein be independently verified.