Elder Cottages

Better Housing rents small modular homes to income-eligible seniors, which are installed temporarily next to the family home of their adult children or other relatives or friends. This arrangement enables seniors who are no longer able to maintain a home alone to continue living independently with the support and security of family nearby. The homes’ design also helps residents remain independent as long as possible. The elder cottage program is made possible by grants received through New York States Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

Features and Specifications

  • One-bedroom modular ranch
  • 672 square feet of living space
  • Ramp at one entrance
  • Full kitchens, baths, appliances, and carpeting
  • Vinyl siding for low maintenance
  • Electric baseboard heat with propane supplement
  • Water/sewer hooked up to the principal home’s system
  • Meets New York State’s senior housing specifications for door clearances and wheelchair accessibility
  • The home is placed on a pressure-treated timber foundation that can be cut off at ground level when it is time for the cottage to be moved to a new location.

    Eligibility and Rents

    The units can be rented by seniors age 60 and older, who are income-qualified based on local income limits. Rents are subsidized through the Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Section 8 rental assistance program. Seniors pay approximately 30% of their adjusted gross monthly income for rent.

    Site Requirements

    Cottages must be placed on a lot located in Tompkins County, near the principle home occupied by an adult child or supportive relative/friend of the senior, who is committed to providing continuing support. The site is subject to all local zoning requirements. The sewage disposal system must be approved by the county health department or the site must have access to a municipal sewage system. Additional site requirements are in the materials mailed to those who inquire further into the program.