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4 tips for being a fair housing superstar (part 1)

Posted by Adam Ensalaco on Mar 19, 2019 10:25:36 AM

How to become a fair housing superstar

Next month 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 on the lookout for part two coming out next week!

In Public Housing, There’s No Such Thing as a “Senior Building”

In the public housing program, there are four types of developments.

General Population

These developments are for anyone that meets the eligibility requirements. These are often called “family developments.”

Mixed Population

These developments are reserved for families where the head, spouse or cohead are either elderly (62 and up), or who have a HUD-defined disability.

Designated Disabled

These developments are reserved for families where the head, spouse, or co-head has a HUD-defined disability.

Designated Elderly

These developments are reserved for families where the head, spouse, or co-head is elderly.

The common issue is that many PHAs confuse the phrase “elderly families” with “elderly people.” 24 CFR 945.105 defines an elderly family as follows:

Elderly family means a family whose head, spouse, or sole member is an elderly person. The term “elderly family” includes an elderly person, two or more elderly persons living together, and one or more elderly persons living with one or more persons who are determined to be essential to the care or well-being of the elderly person or persons. An elderly family may include elderly persons with disabilities and other family members who are not elderly (emphasis mine).

This makes it clear that there are no public housing buildings which can legally exclude children. There are many reasons why this confusion occurs. First, many of these mixed population or designated elderly developments contain only studio or one-bedroom units. It can seem odd to public housing staff to allow an elderly head of household to share a one-bedroom unit with a minor child. But the Fair Housing Act prohibits familial status discrimination. This means that a PHA cannot treat families with children differently than families without them. If you would let an elderly couple share a one-bedroom, you must allow an elderly head of household to share a one-bedroom with a minor child as well.

It is also possible that no non-elderly person has ever tried to reside in that development. The community at large, the PHA staff, and the residents have all always just assumed that the development is for "seniors only." It is very common in class for PH staff to refer to these as "senior developments" although that is not a HUD term (more about this linguistic confusion later).

Lastly, many PHA staff, both in property and program management, began their careers in the private housing market, where senior-only housing is legal. And it’s not always immediately clear just how different HUD-funded housing is from private market housing.

What is critically important to understand, however, is that any families on the public housing waitlist who have a head, spouse, or cohead that is elderly must be considered an "elderly family" regardless of any minor children who may also be listed on the application. Failure to offer a unit in a mixed population or designated elderly development to such a family simply because of the presence of minors would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act and a contradiction of 24 CFR 945.105.

Finally, all specially designated developments (mixed population, designated elderly, and designated disabled) must be included in a PHA’s annual contributions contract.

Next: Understand What Reasonable Accommodation Is (and Is Not)

Want to build up your fair housing knowledge?

Check out our fair housing resources

More about the author:

Headshot of Adam Ensalaco

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.

Topics: eligibility, fair housing, seniors and elderly, Knowledge Base

The real cost of sexual harassment

Posted by Staci Canny, HAI Group on Oct 23, 2018 5:00:00 AM

As a professional in the workplace, you are faced with the awful reality of having a one in three chance of experiencing sexual harassment as a female, and a one in five chance as a male.

Through recent movements, like #metoo, and the takedown of powerful celebrities, politicians, and journalists, this difficult topic is finally being brought to the forefront of conversations nationwide.

While the media has portrayed sexual harassment at large over the past year, have you ever stopped to think about how this relates to you specifically? If a case of sexual harassment happened at your place of work, would you know how to handle it?

Let’s take a look at a scenario that can happen at a housing organization.

Amy is an employee at a housing organization, and Rodney is a contractor who works daily as an onsite property manager. They are both avid sports fans and have frequent conversations about work projects and their common interest in sports. Rodney begins to send Amy daily calls and texts, asking her to join him for the playoff game. Amy did not express an interest in furthering their relationship outside of work, and the ongoing calls and texts made her feel very uncomfortable.

This scenario depicts an example of harassment, resulting in a hostile work environment. If such behavior goes ignored, this type of environment can lead to increased absences and stress among your employees, and consequently, a decrease in productivity.

How would you handle this situation if you were Amy, and you do not wish to have a personal relationship with Rodney outside of the workplace? Here are three steps you should take:

  1. Speak directly to the perpetrator – Take immediate action of the situation by meeting face-to-face with the perpetrator. Do not ignore the situation – this may allow things to escalate.
  2. Discuss your feelings – Keep your cool as you let the individual know that you value your working relationship, and that is all. Explain that their behavior is making you feel uncomfortable, and to please stop.
  3. Meet with Human Resources – If you are still uncomfortable after speaking with the individual, schedule a meeting with Human Resources to discuss the situation and possible solutions. It is your right to feel comfortable in your workplace.

While you may not be able to control whether or not these situations happen at your place of work, what you can control is how you respond to them and take action to prevent them from reoccurring. If you would like to learn more about how to handle various forms of sexual harassment in the workplace, click here to watch HAI Group’s simulated scenario.

HAI Group is a trusted partner, recognized for our experience and exceptional service. While we’re known for pioneering public and affordable housing insurance programs, insurance is not our only strength. For more than 30 years, we’ve evolved with the housing industry and emerged as a leading provider of insurance, risk management, training, capital, research, and advocacy solutions tailor-made for housing.

Topics: HAI Group, Knowledge Base, harassment

Multifamily Alert: New RAD PBRA notices

Posted by Reneé McTyeire on Aug 8, 2018 10:06:28 AM

Rental Assistance Demonstration: Implementation of Certain Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations Act Provisions (FRN 6105-N-01)

This notice establishes rules for which FY rent levels are used as well as deadlines for submission of completed RAD applications. It notes that the RAD application has been significantly simplified, and highlights changes in multi-phase deadlines, the ability to withdraw and reapply for RAD to receive more current rent levels, and RAD second component changes.

Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) – Supplemental Guidance HUD Housing Notice (H 2018-05, PIH 2018-11)

This HUD notice revises certain portions of the RAD Implementation Notice H 2017-03 REV-3 / PIH 2012-32 REV-3.

  • Section I: Provides instructions to PHAs and their development partners, who can convert the assistance of public housing projects under the first component of the demonstration.
  • Section II: Provides instructions to owners of Mod Rehab projects, including SROs, who can convert the assistance of these projects under the second component of the demonstration.
  • Section III: Provides instructions to owners of Rent Supp and RAP projects, who can convert the assistance of these projects under the second component of the demonstration.

There is now a streamlined conversion option for small PHAs with public housing portfolio of 50 units or less, eliminating several lengthy requirements. The notice also implements a higher developer fee limit for owners with a homeless preference to incentivize more development of properties that serve or partially serve this population. Projects that have not yet closed may request HUD approval to convert under the terms of this revised notice.

RHIIP Listserv Posting #410

This notice provides guidance for owner-adopted preferences in RAD properties. Unlike in public housing, owners of RAD PBRA properties may not establish an elderly designation (i.e., a set-aside of units for the elderly). However, owners may adopt a preference for elderly individuals and/or elderly families, which permits those applicants to be selected from the waiting list and housed before other eligible families. Any preference adopted as part of the conversion that will alter the occupancy of the property is subject to an upfront civil rights review during the RAD conversion process.

Certain preferences also require approval from a HUD multifamily field office. For RAD properties, preferences that may be adopted without HUD approval include:

  • Single persons who are 62 or older over other single persons
  • Single persons who are displaced over other single persons
  • Single persons who are homeless over other single persons
  • Single persons with disabilities over other single persons

Preferences that require approval from a HUD field office include but are not limited to:

  • Elderly families
  • Near-elderly single persons
  • Near-elderly families

Learn more about multifamily program compliance

Topics: PBRA, RAD, seniors and elderly, Knowledge Base

FAQ Friday: Eligible Immigration Status

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Jul 20, 2018 9:48:28 AM


Please provide some guidance on eligible immigration status. We know that some noncitizens are eligible (such as permanent residents) and some are ineligible (such as students on a student visa). We’re not sure about other categories such as “nonimmigrant.”

Is there a listing somewhere that gives specifics about what is and what isn’t an eligible status?


The applicable regulation is at 24 Code of Federal Regulations 5.506(a):

Restrictions on assistance. Financial assistance under a Section 214 covered program is restricted to:
(1) Citizens; or
(2) Noncitizens who have eligible immigration status under one of the categories set forth in Section 214 (see 42 U.S.C. 1436a(a)).

The eligible categories are not listed in the HUD regulation, so we have to look at the United States Code under Title 42, Section 1436(a). The US Code lists the groups of eligible immigrants:

Conditions for assistance. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the applicable Secretary may not make financial assistance available for the benefit of any alien unless that alien is a resident of the United States and is—
(1) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence as an immigrant as defined by section 1101(a)(15) and (20) of title 8, excluding, among others, alien visitors, tourists, diplomats, and students who enter the United States temporarily with no intention of abandoning their residence in a foreign country;
(2) an alien who entered the United States prior to June 30, 1948, or such subsequent date as is enacted by law, has continuously maintained his or her residence in the United States since then, and is not ineligible for citizenship, but who is deemed to be lawfully admitted for permanent residence as a result of an exercise of discretion by the Attorney General pursuant to section 1259 of title 8;
(3) an alien who is lawfully present in the United States pursuant to an admission under section 1157 of title 8 or pursuant to the granting of asylum (which has not been terminated) under section 1158 of title 8;
(4) an alien who is lawfully present in the United States as a result of an exercise of discretion by the Attorney General for emergent reasons or reasons deemed strictly in the public interest pursuant to section 1182(d)(5) of title 8;
(5) an alien who is lawfully present in the United States as a result of the Attorney General’s withholding deportation pursuant to section 1231(b)(3) of title 8;
(6) an alien lawfully admitted for temporary or permanent residence under section 1255a of title 8; or
(7) an alien who is lawfully resident in the United States and its territories and possessions under section 141 of the Compacts of Free Association between the Government of the United States and the Governments of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (48 U.S.C. 1901 note) and Palau.

The eligible categories are also listed on the second page of HUD’s model declaration of Section 214 status. Noncitizens who are not in an eligible category are ineligible. This includes undocumented persons, students on a student visa, workers on a work visa, sponsored aliens, fiancées, and all others not categorized as eligible.

Aliens in nonimmigrant status are most likely ineligible. Here is the definition of “nonimmigrant” from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website:

An alien who seeks temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose. The alien must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the nonimmigrant classification sought. The nonimmigrant classifications include: foreign government officials, visitors for business and for pleasure, aliens in transit through the United States, treaty traders and investors, students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, representatives of foreign information media, exchange visitors, fiance(e)s of U.S. citizens, intracompany transferees, NATO officials, religious workers, and some others.
Learn more about HCV eligibilityLearn more about PH eligibility

Topics: eligibility, Q&A, Knowledge Base

FAQ Friday: Proof of Identity

Posted by NMA on Mar 16, 2018 5:00:00 AM

QUESTION     Does HUD require a picture ID for adult family members? Our administrative plan and ACOP policies require a state-issued picture ID but we are finding that some applicants have difficulty in obtaining one. What if there is a birth certificate on file? Is that acceptable as proof of identity under the HUD regulations?

ANSWER     There is no regulatory requirement for proof of identity, but PHAs may establish such a requirement in policy. Proof of identity is not limited to state-issued ID documents.

Here is a clarification from HUD’s Rental Integrity Summit FAQs (please see Q & A #50):

Question: Is a picture ID required, if there is a birth certificate in the adult tenant's file for establishing legal identity?

Answer: A birth certificate does not establish an adult's legal identity in determining citizenship for eligibility. Therefore, a PHA may request a picture ID from an adult for this purpose. HUD regulations give PHAs the discretion to determine what appropriate documentation an applicant or participant is required to furnish to the PHA. Although not inclusive, the following are acceptable documents to establish identity:

  • U.S. passport
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (INS Form N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (INS Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Valid foreign passport, with I-551 stamp or attached INS Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment authorization
  • Permanent resident card or alien registration receipt card with photograph (INS Form I-151 or I-551)
  • Valid employment authorization card (INS Form I-688)
  • Valid reentry permit (INS Form I-571)
  • Valid employment authorization document issued by INS, which contains a photograph (INS Form I-688B)
  • Driver's license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States

Are you a PIH Alert subscriber? Every Friday, the PIH Alert includes one frequently asked question (FAQ) submitted by our readers. Sign up today for a free 30-day trial subscription! Email to get started. To submit your question, email Annie Stevenson at with the subject line "FAQ Friday."

Topics: Q&A, Knowledge Base

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