Sheltered housing is a British English term covering a wide range of rented housing for older and/or disabled or other vulnerable people. -Wikipedia

Is there an American equivalent for this kind of housing? Retirement home and Assisted living don't seem to match, but I can't imagine this concept exists only in Britain, but when I search for it (or for retirement housing) I get websites with "co.uk". What is this called in America?

  • There is "subsidized housing", for those too poor to pay full rent. And there are various "sheltered" living arrangements for (mostly mentally) disabled people, but there is no common terminology (that I'm aware of) to refer to these nationwide.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 30, 2016 at 12:28
  • The key aspect of Sheltered Housing is nothing to do with affordability: it means that someone comes in and checks on the person regularly, and/or some system to raise an alarm to bring urgent assistance. So it's really about living in your own home (rather than a room in a care home, say) but having help to hand. OP you should explain this in your question. Aug 30, 2016 at 13:16
  • Section 8. Many communities also have affordable housing iniatives.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 30, 2016 at 13:17
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    I think that assisted living is the perfect US "translation" for Sheltered Housing btw. What do you mean when you say it "doesn't seem to match"? Ie, what's the difference? Aug 30, 2016 at 13:19
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    @MaxWilliams The place my grandfather was looking at billed that level of light assistance as "independent living". One of my great aunts lived in a apartment building that offered similar levels of service a few decades ago; but that just billed itself as a building for retired people. Aug 30, 2016 at 17:22

4 Answers 4


When I (an American) hear sheltered housing, I think of homeless shelters.

What you're talking about sounds like a mix of different types of organizations that we split up into different categories: disabled housing, retirement homes, psychiatric hospitals, public housing, etc. I don't think you'll find one word that encompasses them all. It's not that the concept doesn't exist over here, it's just that we don't really have an all-encompassing word.

The closest thing I can find is assisted living, which might be what you're looking for. (Edit: I just saw that you already mentioned this term, but hopefully the previous paragraph helps.)

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    And when I hear "sheltered housing", I think of a house inside a larger house. You know, to shelter it. Aug 30, 2016 at 13:49

What you are asking about is on a continuum between independent living and long term care.

This paragraph from this link may explain why the exact portfolio of services in your government's term is not established in the US:

These facilities may go under various names, such as nursing home, personal care facility, residential continuing care facility, etc. and are operated by different providers.

While the government has been asked with the LTC (Long term care) industry not to bundle health, personal care, and services (e.g., meal, laundry, housekeeping) into large facilities, the US government continues to approve that as the primary use of taxpayers' funds instead (e.g., new assisted living). [Wikipedia]


A more common North American term might be group home

A group home is a private residence for children or young people who cannot live with their families, or people with chronic disabilities who may be adults or seniors. Typically there are no more than six residents and there is at least one trained caregiver there 24 hours a day.

In Canada we use the idea (and probably meaning) of "sheltered" when we speak of sheltered workshops for the disabled.

  • thanks for your answer, but the Wikipedia definition explains that: the tenants are usually able to look after themselves, are active and are afforded a degree of independence. So it doesn't seem like what you describe.
    – DAE
    Aug 30, 2016 at 13:29
  • Also, a sheltered housing unit with only six people would be very small. Aug 30, 2016 at 14:05

So after doing some research I found that my grandmother lived in an Independent Living facility for a few years (in the US). This was a building of apartments where elderly people could live independently in normal residencies. Aside from the apartments there was a dining hall and recreational programming for the residents. If needed there is a nursing staff for assistance, but the residents aren't necessarily in need of this.

It seems to me that this term and facility is the best match for Sheltered Housing.

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