Navigating the housing landscape as a senior citizen can be a challenging endeavor. Nevertheless, understanding your rights to fair housing as an older adult is essential to make informed choices. In this informative guide, we will explore the intricacies of fair housing and empower seniors to find their ideal place to call home.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA), also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, is one of the most important pieces of legislation relating to fair housing for senior citizens. It plays a critical role in preventing discrimination and ensuring that all individuals in the United States have equal access to housing opportunities. According to the FHA, discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability is prohibited. This includes refusing to rent or sell, setting different terms or conditions, and harassment. Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations to policies and practices to allow a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy the housing. For example, this may involve allowing service or assistance animals even with a "no pet" policy or allowing a ramp to be built.
The FHA applies to most types of housing, including rental apartments, single-family homes, condominiums, mobile homes, and senior housing communities, among others. However, there are certain exemptions, such as owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units or religious organizations that provide housing to members of their religion.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for enforcing the FHA. If you or a loved one have experienced housing discrimination, you can file a complaint with the HUD. The HUD will investigate the claim and initiate legal action when necessary.
The Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) is an amendment to the Fair Housing Act that offers various exemptions and guidelines for senior housing. The HOPA was enacted in 1995 and allows certain housing communities to set age restrictions. Specifically, HOPA allows certain housing facilities to exclude families with children under 18 from residing there, creating senior-only housing. In order to qualify for this designation, a community must meet one of the follow criteria:
It is important to note that while HOPA allows communities to restrict occupancy to older residents, these facilities still cannot discriminate against residents based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or disability.
The main goal of Fair Housing laws is to promote equal access to housing for all U.S. citizens. In some cases, this may require additional accommodations and modifications to help guarantee that housing is equally available to older adults with disabilities. These accommodations and modifications may necessitate changes to rules and policies as well as alterations to the housing unit or common areas.
Common examples of reasonable accommodations and modifications may include:
The examples above show how tweaking rules, routines, and the property can make life easier for older residents with disabilities. Housing providers must work with residents to figure out efficient ways to increase access as required by fair housing laws.
As you grow older, choosing the right type of housing option for your specific needs and wishes can be a difficult choice. It is generally advised to discuss this decision with your loved ones as well as a professional to choose the best option that suits your budget and personal circumstances. Some of the most common living arrangements for senior citizens include:
The best housing situation depends on each senior's preferences, health status, finances, and local options. While senior housing options can be quite costly, keep in mind that there are several affordable housing services available. For instance, the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly provides subsidized rental housing for low-income seniors aged 62 and older. Consult with a professional elder law attorney to find out if you are eligible for this option.
We hope this insightful article helped you better understand the ins and outs of fair housing for senior citizens. As seniors, you deserve housing that respects your individuality and honors your life's experiences. If you have any questions regarding fair housing or need legal assistance in choosing your next housing facility, reach out to one of our professional elder law attorneys today.