April is Fair Housing Month! In honor of this occasion, I’m sharing four tips I’ve learned over the years. From “senior buildings” and reasonable accommodation to service animals and housing terminology, I’m here to get you on the path to becoming the fair housing superstar I know you are. This is a four part series, so be sure to read parts one, two, and three.
Don’t Confuse Yourself
Within our offices, it’s very common for us to create our own jargon. I have heard the HUD 52517 form, which is officially entitled “Request for Tenancy Approval” called “The Rafta,” “The R.F.T.A.,” and “The Moving Papers” at various housing authorities (and once by three different staff members of the same housing authority). Similarly, I have often heard, “we have a participant requesting an assistance pet” or “we issued them a moving voucher.” And as I mentioned above, I hear the phrase, “this is a senior development” quite often. But these are not HUD terms in the HCV or public housing regulations. If we were to try to find the regulations governing “senior developments” or “senior buildings,” we wouldn’t find anything. These are not HUD terms, so I often find myself having to take the time to go back, unravel the confusion, and clarify issues before I can get to actually answering the question at hand.
This lack of clarity with our language can have very detrimental effects when we try to research areas where we require guidance on how to assist our clients. Make sure your staff is on the same page with HUD. On the occasions when you need to reach out to your field office for help, choosing your terms carefully can prevent confusion and miscommunication.
Everyone here at NMA understands that these fair housing rules can seem overwhelming and confusing. But the good news is that we're here to help! I hope this has been an enjoyable (or at least helpful) read, and I speak for all of us here when I say we look forward to coming to your PHA to help guide you through some gray areas in the months and years to come.
ICYMI, make sure to read the other posts in this series: In Public Housing, There’s No Such Thing as a “Senior Building,” Understand What Reasonable Accommodation Is (and Is Not), and Understand The "Critters" of Public Housing
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More about the author:
Adam Ensalaco specializes in making rent calculation easier to understand and clearing up common misconceptions about the process. Adam has previous experience in the affordable housing industry working to house people with disabilities and training housing authorities on reasonable accommodations and has been a part of the NMA team for nearly a decade.