Almshouses – Free Retirement Accommodation

FREE Retirement Accommodation, Sheltered Accommodation information, Elderly Housing Accommodation information. Almshouses are charitable housing provided to enable the elderly and people in retirement to live in their chosen community.

Almshouses have been created throughout the period since the 10th century, up to the present day. Almshouses enable people (typically elderly people who can no longer work to earn enough to pay rent) to live in a particular community free of charge or at minimal costs. They are often targeted at the poor of a locality, at those from certain forms of previous employment, or their widows, and are generally maintained by a charity or the trustees of a bequest. There is no strict delineation between Almshouses and other forms of sheltered housing such as care homes and nursing homes, although Almshouses will tend to be characterised by their charitable status and by the aim of supporting the continued independence of their residents.

There are currently 544 registered almshouses in the UK
There are currently 1602 almshouses related charities in the UK

What is it that makes Almshouses so special?

Almshouses offer elderly and retired people the chance to remain independent and to live their lives with dignity and fulfilment. The benchmark is to offer a standard of living and quality of life that others would welcome for themselves or their families. Almshouse charities are in the main run by local people who voluntarily give their time, experience and commitment for the benefit of their community. A bond exists between trustees and residents, based upon mutual respect and friendship.

Who qualifies to live in an Almshouse?

Mainly those of retirement age with limited financial means who live in the vicinity of an almshouse charity. There are also almshouses for retired fishermen, miners, retail workers and a host of other groups. Increasingly almshouses are also helping the young, the disabled and key workers.

What are sheltered housings?

Sheltered housing schemes are generally owned, run and maintained by a housing trust, usually a not-for-profit organisation which works closely with and is part-funded by the local authority.

Sheltered housing accommodation is self-contained and easy to manage, ranging from a simple bedsit to a large flat or small house. Such schemes are distinct from a nursing home or care home in that the tenants are usually able to look after themselves, are active and are afforded a degree of independence; equally, sheltered housing differs from retirement housing which is generally leasehold (owner-occupied). Many schemes have communal areas such as a lounge and/or garden where tenants can socialise. Many sheltered housing schemes are open only to people aged 60 or over although some accept people from the age of 55. This age restriction however is changing as the deciding factors in offering potential residents accommodation is being widened as a means to accept that being vulnerable and in need of support is not always age related.

There is generally no upper age limit, the deciding factor instead being whether the elderly or retired person is independent enough to look after themselves or if they need care. A number of housing associations are now considering the rising need for this type of accommodation and are adding suitable accommodation in plans for their new social housing developments. Many of these developments are entitled to apply for funding from local governments to provide suitable housing for the more vulnerable members of the community.

General guidance for Almshouses applicants:

The following information is a guide to the almshouse application process for people applying for almshouse charitable, free accommodation or low cost accommodation.

On receipt of the completed application form, the Almhouses Scheme managers will firstly check that the applicant(s) meets the criteria for accommodation. To be accepted on to the waiting list applicants must either:

Have been born in the area or
Be normally resident in the area (on the electoral roll etc.) or
Have been resident in the area for a period as set by the scheme
In addition, applicants will normally only be considered if they are of retirement age or consider themselves to be disabled as defined within the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. Elderly and retired applicants to both schemes can only be considered if they are planning to move within two years of the date of application. Applicants not meeting the above criteria may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Having checked that the applicant(s) meets the above criteria, the Almhouses Scheme administor will write to you informing you that we are placing your name(s) on our waiting list, they will also arrange a home assessment. Usually they endeavour to write to you within 28 days of receipt of your application form. The Scheme Manager will visit you at your home to assess your needs, this will be an informal visit, and will be an additional opportunity for you to ask any questions that you may have regarding the almshouses.

The visit will also enable them to assess your level of priority on our waiting list. In the event of an appropriate property becoming vacant, the applicant assessed as being in greatest need will be offered the property. Should they decline, the next applicant on the waiting list will be offered the property, this will continue until an applicant accepts the property.