Due to Arizona's favorable climate, thousands of seniors make Arizona their short-term winter home and many eventually choose to make their stay permanent. Arizona has an ever-growing elderly population, many of whom live on fixed, limited incomes and need advice qualifying for and locating affordable housing.
Finding Affordable Senior Housing and Qualifying
Low-income senior apartments can be found in most Arizona communities. Some are under federal housing guidelines and will only accept low-income seniors who have qualified under the Dept. of Housing Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, but most are privately owned. Many other privately owned properties offer reduced rents on a limited number of apartments to low-income seniors, with assistance from HUD.
How to Qualify
HUD sets income limits that determine eligibility for assisted housing programs, including Section 202 housing for the elderly. HUD develops these income limits based on Median Family Income (MFI) estimates and Fair Market Rent.
For more information on how to qualify, you can contact the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) serving your Arizona community.
As an example: According to City of Phoenix Housing Department, "applicants must be 62 years of age or older with no more than two persons in the family. Income must be less than $37,100 for one person or no more than $42,400 for two people. All applicants will have a criminal-background check, must have a good rental history, and not owe any money to any assisted housing program. Priority is given to those 62 years and older on the waitlist. "
Note: Figuring out if you qualify for subsidized senior housing can be complicated. You must directly contact the management of any properties of interest.
How to Find Low-Income Housing in Arizona
The Arizona Department of Housing has partnered with Socialserve.com, a nationally known searchable database of nonprofit agencies. This database is updated weekly with the latest vacancy information. Here you can search Arizona by city and rent amount as well as other variables.
- Click on the above Socialseve.com link
- Find and click on the city desired
- Select "Advanced"
- Fill in "General Search" information
- Scroll to "Other Search Options"
- In "Keyword Search" type "Senior"
- Click "search"
Note: If you want to find properties without a waiting list select "hide waitlist" properties. If no properties are shown for the city selected, go back to the beginning and change your search from a specific city to "State of Arizona," then repeat the steps above to find where low-income subsidized apartments are immediately available in Arizona.
You can also find low-income subsidized housing properties in Arizona through HUD:
- Click the link above
- Scroll down to "Local Resources"
- Select "Subsidized Apartment Search"
- Once on the affordable Apartment Search page:
- Select your city, county, or ZIP code, then under apartment type select "Elderly"
- Scroll down for property names, address and contact numbers.
Low-Income Senior Waiting Lists
The waiting lists for subsidized housing for the elderly are often very long. So, once you know you're qualified, get your name on the property waiting list as soon as possible. You'll be asked income and other household information, but are not usually required to pay a holding fee.
Most property waiting lists are first-come, first-served, but putting your name on a waiting list does not obligate you to take an apartment when one becomes available, so don't hesitate to put your name on the waiting lists of several properties.
When you get on a senior community's waiting list:
- Find out how that property uses its list, details differ between communities.
- Be sure to state any special circumstances upfront; some properties may be flexible enough to accommodate you.
- Be patient
- Stay in contact with the property management
- Keep your application information current, particularly your contact information.
Affordable Housing in Arizona's Metro Areas
Almost 16 percent of Arizona's population is over 65, and the greatest majority of those live in Arizona's metropolitan areas, Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson.
Phoenix is Arizona's largest city and offers the greatest variety of affordable senior living apartments
Rancho Montanas offers affordable senior apartment rentals for adults 55 and older. This low-income senior community is centrally located in Phoenix, Arizona and offers 1 and 2 bedroom floor plans, with oversized patios, private storage, with a washer, dryer and a dishwasher are included. This is a gated community with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, elevators, covered parking and a community room with internet access.
- Cats and dogs are welcome, but weight limits apply and additional deposits required.
- Call or visit for more information
- Income restrictions apply
- Section 8 Vouchers accepted
- Pets up to 25 lbs. at Maturity are welcome with a $150 Pet Deposit. No monthly pet rent.
- Call or visit for more information
Senior Cottages at Apache Junction, a 55+ senior apartment community located in the Phoenix area, offers an affordable 1 & 2 bedroom single level cottage-style rentals. These cottages have an attached garage, private patio and a large kitchen with dishwasher. Shopping and recreation are nearby, there is a community pool and small pets are welcome.
- 1 Bedroom/1 bath 728 Sq. Ft.
- Rents: Begin at about $533 per month
- Deposit: $200
- Application Fee: $40
- Rental rates are based on household income, Contact property for rental guidelines.
Paradise Palms Phase I, is a market based, 55 and older, low-income property located in the Phoenix area. It features 1 bedroom/1 bath 700 sq. ft. apartments. Refrigerator / Freezer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, ceilings fans and an on-site laundry facility.
- Qualifications: Seniors 55 and older
- Contact property for income restrictions
- One Year Lease
- Utilities Included: Water, Sewer, Trash Pickup
- Application Fee: $40 per Adult, Negotiable
- Rents: $479 - $534
- Deposit: $187 - $447
- Pets allowed under 20 lbs. with $200 deposit and $20 per month pet rent. Breed restrictions apply
Flagstaff, located in the high country mountains of northern Arizona has four seasons. Though it may not seem a hot spot for retirees, a 2012 article in the U.S. News & World Report lists this mountain town as one of the 10 best places retire.
Sandstone Highlands Senior Community, located in Flagstaff, is near shopping venues, grocery stores, recreational facilities, a senior center, hospital and pharmacy and all units are senior equipped.
- Area Median Income (AMI) based.
- One bedroom/one bath
- Rent: Income 40 percent AMI $458; Income 30 percent AMI $333
- Deposit: $400
- Application fee $35
- One year lease is required
Flagstaff Senior Meadows features one Bedroom/one bath (1100 sq. ft.) apartments that include stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, ceiling fan(s) and an on-site laundry room.
- Qualifications: Must be 62 years of age or older. Must qualify at 40 percent, 50 percent or 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).
- Rents: 60 percent AMI $711; 50 percent AMI $593; 40 percent AMI $474
- All utilities paid
- Deposit: $250-$400
- No application fee
- One Year Lease includes electricity, water, sewer, trash pickup, heat but no air-conditioning.
Tucson has three dedicated senior centers in addition to "Senior Programs" available at other locations.
Barrio Viejo Elderly Housing and Casitas on East Broadway are two low-income seniors housing complexes in Tucson operated by Catholic Community Services - Pio Decimo Center. Barrio Viejo offers 62 single-story casita apartments. Casitas on East Broadway is a two-story building with 57 apartments.
- Rent: Rent is equal to 30 percent of the resident's adjusted monthly income
You'll first have to ask for your name to be placed on a list to receive an application. Applications are typically mailed out once a year. After your completed application is received and reviewed, your name will then be placed on a waiting list for one of these much in demand apartments.
Other Affordable Senior Living Apartments
Obviously, if you need immediate low-income housing, you may not be able to wait for your name to come to the top of a waiting list. So, another option is to search for market-rate, non-subsidized senior housing, which often has shorter waiting lists. You can find many of these on After55.com. Just search for the city that interests you in the State of Arizona, then scroll through the apartments listed and find those labeled low income.
Thinking Outside the Box: Senior Home Sharing
One potential solution for low-income Arizona seniors is to share a home or apartment. Home sharing is an affordable alternative to senior housing where a number of seniors essentially become full-time roommates in a large home and share all expenses as well as all the chores related to living there.
Whether you're looking for a place to call home or have a home to share, the best way to find a home mate is to reach out to your local senior community.
- Classified ads in your local newspaper or online at craigslist.com.
- Contact your local senior center, church or temple, post a note on their bulletin board.
- Spread the word in any of your other senior circles, like the golf course or bowling or book clubs etc.
Additionally, the current trend toward senior home sharing has produced some online roommate matching service for seniors. All of these programs provide profiles of potential roommates, have national web-based matching programs and have membership fees that range from $30 to $39.
- Silvernest.com is a growing roommate matching service for seniors. One of their top cities is Phoenix.
- Goldergirlsnetwork.com is the end product of the book How to Start a Golden Girls Home.
As with all other internet sources, seniors should thoroughly explore the websites to get all the details about home sharing, and then exercise caution when sharing information.
Pros and Cons
It's also important to remember there are pros and cons of home sharing. Not all roommates are good roommates, and all contractual arrangements should have an escape clause, just in case things don't work out. But if you can find your perfect match, a senior roommate arrangement can relieve the stress of fixed low-income living, provide valuable support and great companionship, all of which make independent senior living more enjoyable.
Do Your Homework and Be Patient
If you're an Arizona senior on a low fixed income, it will take patience, tenacity and probably the help of family and friends to find affordable housing that suits you. As you consider where you want to live and what you can afford, keep in mind what's the most important to you, check out your options, and then make a decision on how you can make the rest of your life the best life possible.