Housing Options Guide

Senior Housing refers to housing that’s exempt from the Fair Housing Act’s (FHA) ban on familial status discrimination because it caters to people above a certain age and in a certain way (as codified by the FHA and the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA)):

  • 62 and older. If it’s a 62 and older building, then someone in the household must be at least 62 years old.
  • 55 and older. At least one person who is 55 or older lives in at least 80% of the occupied units and the community adheres to a policy that demonstrates intent to house people who are 55 or older. Residents can be younger than 55 to live in 55-and-older community, as long as a spouse or another person in the household is at least 55 years old.
  • Government program. HUD has determined that the dwelling is specifically designed for and occupied by older persons under a federal, state or local government program.

Normally, a landlord can’t refuse to rent to tenants based on “familial status,” or the fact that they have one or more children under 18 living in the household. But if an apartment community qualifies for the senior exemption, the landlord can legally discriminate against families with children.

Independent Housing is for individuals who are still able to care for self and are still independent in the areas of mobility, nutrition, personal care housekeeping and medication management. Management may provide minimal access to community services and provide limited access to recreational services for voluntary use by residents; no medical services are provided. Older adults (and persons with disabilities under 65 years old in some communities) may be connected to community supports (e.g. homemaker services, Home Delivered Meals).

Subsidized Housing federally funded programs that assist low-income people afford decent rental housing. Rent is based upon your adjusted monthly income. Some units are specifically designated for older adults (e.g., age 55+ or 62+) or persons with disabilities. Residential properties are owned and maintained by the Housing Authority or by private management companies. Public housing developments are overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). Those who are deemed low income, elderly, or disabled may qualify for public housing. As defined by HUD, low-income families are characterized by incomes that are 50 percent to 80 percent of the area’s median income.

Senior Shared Housing Residents must be 60 years of age or older. Senior Home Sharing is a social model of supportive shared housing. Medical care is not provided but medications reminders are given to residents. Several individuals share a home in a residential community. Each resident has his or her own private bedroom and they share the common areas of the house. Each home has seven to eight private bedrooms. Residents must be able to independently perform activities of daily living (bathing, grooming, dressing). Residents do not do housekeeping, maintenance, or yard work. Residents can remain socially active and engage in group outings/meetings and involved in the community and possibly maintain part-time volunteer or paid work. A list of vacant rooms and waiting list changes regularly.

Additional Resources

Affordable Senior Housing Programs

Local Housing Authority Resources

Long-Term Care Options

Where to Get Housing Assistance

Shared Housing Fact Sheet


  • This website offers free listing services for apartment seekers and provides detailed information about rental properties and helps people find available housing to best fit their needs.
  • The service can be accessed at no cost online 24 hours a day through the ILHousingSearch.org website or through a toll-free, bilingual call center at 1.877.428.8844.

Housing Assistance Partners

The agencies listed have specially trained information and assistance professionals available to answer questions and link you to local resources. They also serve as your convenient access point for the comprehensive array of service options offered through our network of care.

DuPage County

DuPage County Community Services
(800) 942-9412
(630) 407-6500

Grundy County

Grundy County Health Department
(815) 941-3404

Kane County

Senior Services Associates, Inc.
(800) 339-3200

Kankakee County

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet
(815) 523-9918

Kendall County

Senior Services Associates, Inc.
(800) 339-3200
(630) 553-5777

Lake County

Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Chicago
(847) 546-5733

McHenry County

Senior Services Associates, Inc.
Crystal Lake: (815) 356-7457
McHenry: (815) 344-3555
(800) 339-3200

Will County

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet
(815) 523-9918
Senior Services of Will County
(815) 723-9713


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