Help for Homeless Seniors

Homeless senior housing programs serve the needs of the community’s most needy and homeless senior citizens so that they can have a roof over their heads and food to eat.

These programs offer emergency housing for seniors, food assistance as well as help locating financial resources. Many programs provide temporary support, while others provide long-term support to help an individual maintain safe housing.

Homeless elderly individuals may receive help with food expenses through the federal food stamp program also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The SNAP program provides beneficiaries with a monthly stipend to use on groceries at approved retailers. The Social Security Administration also provides help for homeless seniors in the way of Social Security retirement benefits. Additionally, those seniors who are disabled qualify for disability income from the Social Security Administration. The below sections outline essential information for anyone seeking help for homeless seniors and information on how to find suitable housing.

Housing Assistance for Homeless Seniors

Individuals seeking homeless senior housing have access to a variety of programs. Seniors may utilize homeless shelters for the elderly, housing vouchers and public housing to meet their needs for shelter.

Homeless Shelters

Shelters are a form of homeless senior housing that provides temporary accommodation. Most shelters have a limited timeframe for a senior’s stay. The timeframe varies from daily to several months. The services offered at each shelter varies. Some offer housing while some shelters provide overnight housing. Others offer a full range of services including help locating permanent housing, financial resources and also assistance in getting health care. To find a shelter, seniors may reach out the local public housing authorities (PHA) in their areas for help.

Section 8 (Housing Choice Vouchers)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) helps individuals find affordable housing. The program is not a homeless senior housing program. Rather it is one that provides rent subsidies to participants in the way of a voucher. Homeless seniors may use the coupon to rent an apartment of their choice. To qualify, individuals must meet income guidelines specified by HUD.

Related Article: Senior Housing Options

Homeless senior citizens can apply for the program by contacting the PHA in their area. There may be a waiting list for this program.

Public Housing

Each state run a public housing program that provides  . Each area’s public housing authority manages the properties. Unlike Section 8, there is no voucher involved. Individuals pay rent to the PHA rather than a private landlord. Individuals must meet income guidelines to participate in the program. Homeless seniors must contact their local PHA to inquire about eligibility procedures, how to apply and whether there is a waitlist.

Food Help for Homeless Senior Citizens

Besides providing homeless shelters for the elderly, many states also offer food assistance. Homeless senior citizens may receive food assistance from several resources available in their state.


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a state-based program formerly known as food stamps. The federal program provides beneficiaries of all ages, including homeless seniors, with assistance paying for food. Applicants must apply for the SNAP program. To qualify, they must be older than 60 years of age and meet income guidelines established by the program. Once approved for the program, beneficiaries receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Each month, the SNAP program deposits a set amount onto the card. Beneficiaries may use the card to purchase food at approved retailers.

Food Banks

While SNAP provides a set monthly benefit for food, food banks offer emergency food services. In most areas, local agencies, community organizations and churches run food banks. These organizations provide individuals with emergency rations of food. In most cases, there are no application or eligibility requirements for homeless seniors to get food from a food bank.

Housing Assistance for Homeless Veterans

Homeless seniors who are Veterans of the United States Armed Forces qualify for assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA provides housing assistance for homeless veterans through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). The joint HUD and VA initiative provides vouchers for rental assistance. The vouchers may be used to rent housing from private landlords.

To qualify, seniors must meet HUD guidelines for the voucher. HUD bases eligibility on income and age. The senior must also meet VA eligibility for the program. Specifically, they must be eligible for VA health care to participate.

Under this housing for elderly homeless individuals program, seniors work with a case manager who coordinates their housing, healthcare and other treatment needs. The case manager works with the veteran to minimize recurrence of homelessness and to improve the veteran’s overall quality of life.

Health Care Help for Homeless Seniors

Homeless shelters for the elderly can help individuals locate and apply for the health care services they require. Homeless senior citizens may receive low-cost health insurance through government-funded programs. Each program has eligibility criteria that is based on age, income and disability status.


Medicaid is a program that provides free or low-cost health coverage for qualified individuals. The program pays for routine doctors’ visits, labs, X-rays and preventive services such as health screenings. In some states, Medicaid also pays for nursing home care. To qualify, applicants must meet income requirements outlined by the plan. Seniors may apply for Medicaid online through the Healthcare Marketplace website. They may also contact their state’s Medicaid agency for more information.


provides health care services not offered by homeless senior housing programs. Medicare is a federal program that provides affordable health care to those who qualify. Anyone older than 65 years of age automatically qualifies for the program. Most seniors qualify for Part A coverage at no cost. Parts B, D and other plans have a fee associated with them. In the U.S. most seniors older than 65 years of age are dual eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. With this arrangement, Medicaid pays the beneficiary’s premiums for the Part B coverage. Medicaid may also pay for a beneficiary’s deductibles and copays.

Seniors apply for the program in one of two ways. First, they may be automatically enrolled based on their age and disability status. Homeless seniors who don’t qualify for automatic enrollment may apply for coverage on the Medicare website.

Financial Assistance for Homeless Senior Citizens

Homeless elderly individuals may apply for financial assistance through programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). All seniors, whether living in homeless senior housing or emergency housing have the same rights to apply for Social Security as those who are not homeless. Seniors may apply for financial assistance through the below programs.

Social Security Retirement Benefits

Homeless seniors who have worked long enough to qualify may receive Social Security retirement benefits. Social Security retirement benefits give individuals a monthly payment based on the individual’s earnings during their working years. Individuals can apply for their benefits by utilizing the Social Security website.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The SSA provides financial assistance to those seniors with a qualifying disability. In general, the disability must be one that inhibits them obtaining gainful employment. Also, the impairment must be expected to last for one year or result in death. Seniors qualify for this program if they have paid Social Security taxes during their employment. The monthly benefit amount depends on the person’s income.

Supplemental Security Income

Unlike Social Security and SSDI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on financial need. Seniors do not qualify based on whether they paid Social Security taxes. Rather, the program provides a monthly payment to qualified homeless seniors and other qualified individuals based on their income.

Related Article: Senior Financial Services

It might also interest you: