Homelessness Assistance Resources for Multifamily Housing Owners and Managers

Opening Doors, the Federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, provides a framework for Federal agencies and state and local partners to work together to meet specific goals to end homelessness. The plan was developed in 2010 and amended in 2015.

In July 2013, HUD issued Notice H 2013-21 “Implementation and Approval of Owner-Adopted Admissions Preferences for Individuals or Families Experiencing Homelessness”. This Notice provides guidance on the circumstances under which owners of HUD assisted multifamily properties may adopt admissions preferences to house homeless individuals and families.

Opening Doors relies upon building and maintaining a community-wide effort to appropriately address and end homelessness. Owners and property managers of HUD assisted housing may implement a preference to house homeless individuals and families. HUD also encourages owners and property managers of market rate housing to also contribute towards ending homelessness in their communities.

HUD has several resources available to help property owners and managers house homeless individuals and families.

Not quite sure where to start? Contact us; we are here to help you get on your way! HUD will provide introductory technical assistance to connect you with key contacts in your area and to answer questions about the homeless preference. Please send us an email at MFHP@hud.gov.

Join the Homeless Preference mailing list to get up-to-the-minute information and guidance on the homeless preference and renting to homeless individuals and families.

Information by Housing Type

Assisted Multifamily Housing Owners and Managers

Homeless Preference Overview and Eligible Individuals

A “homeless preference” applies to privately-owned HUD assisted multifamily housing with project-based Section 8 or Project Rental Assistance Contract (PRAC) rental subsidy. While HUD’s assisted housing stock is already designed for low-income individuals and families, it nonetheless can still play a vital role in the effort to end homelessness.

In many communities the demand for subsidized apartment housing exceeds the supply. As a result many properties maintain substantial admission waiting lists. Assigning preferences to waiting list applicants who meet certain criteria is a method intended to provide housing opportunities to applicants based upon household circumstances. Applicants with preferences are selected from the waiting list and receive an opportunity for an available unit earlier than those who do not have a preference.

Preferences affect only the order of applicants on the waiting list. They do not make anyone eligible who was not otherwise eligible and they do not change an owner’s right to adopt and enforce tenant screening criteria. A homeless preference will enable an owner to provide a homeless individual or family on the property’s waiting list with an available apartment earlier than those applicants who are not currently homeless.

Owners must inform all waiting list applicants about available preferences and give all applicants an opportunity to show that they qualify for those preferences. Owners are permitted to establish preferences for assisted properties as long as they are subordinate to any program-specific preferences and comply with applicable fair housing and civil rights statutes.

A preference is required only if a property has an existing waiting list. If a property does not have a waiting list, the owner and property management company can at any time admit any homeless individual or family who meets the other housing eligibility criteria.

Receiving referrals from homeless service providers in your area can be an expedient way to fill vacancies and is a win-win situation for everyone. When you are ready to contact and create partnerships with community agencies and service providers, you can find your local Continuum of Care (CoC) here. A CoC is an entity consisting of organizations in the same geographic area that provides services to persons experiencing homelessness.

Creating the Preference

In order to implement a preference, a property’s Tenant Selection Plan (TSP) must be modified and then submitted to the local HUD field office for approval. As noted above, this is required only when there is an existing waiting list. However, HUD strongly recommends that all interested properties modify their TSPs, so that when the need arises to establish a waiting list they will be ready to go. The Homeless Preference Tool Kit explains the process, provides templates for revised TSPs, and offers guidance on choosing the homeless group you wish to serve.

Once approved by HUD, the owner or management agent will provide a notice to current waiting list applicants to advise them of the preference. The notice will instruct applicants on how to demonstrate their eligibility for the preference. After addressing the status of current waiting list applicants, and owner and its management agent can begin receiving referrals of homeless individuals and families from community service providers.


HUD Memo: Allowable Special and Add-on Management Fees to Implement a Homeless Preference

This guidance describes the authorization for HUD Multifamily Regional Centers/Satellite Offices to approve both a special and an add-on management fee. Participation in this incentive is limited to HUD multifamily assisted housing.

Date Published: December 2016

Multifamily Homeless Preference: Owners and Agents Share Their Experience Video

This video (run time 4:37) features HUD multifamily property owners and agents who have successfully adopted a multifamily homeless preference at their properties for families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness. They explain how productive relationships with service providers and HUD partners have facilitated their implementation of the preference, and share the positive impact they have seen the preference have on families and communities.

This video is intended for HUD multifamily property owners, property management agents, government agencies, Continuums of Care, and homeless service providers.

Date Published: November 2016

Adopting a Multifamily Homeless Preference: An Overview for Property Owners and Agents Webinar

This webinar (run time 5:30) explains how the HUD multifamily homeless preference works, describes the benefits of adopting the preference, and notes the important role that the preference plays in the federal strategic plan to end homelessness. Answers are provided to common questions about property owner flexibility with the preference and the option for owners to partner with local service providers to support families and individuals transitioning from homelessness. The webinar then explains the four simple steps for property owners to adopt the preference and provides links to guidance for owners.

This webinar is intended for HUD multifamily property owners, property management agents, government agencies, Continuums of Care, and homeless service providers.

Date Published: November 2016

Implementing a Homeless Preference in Multifamily Housing: An Overview for Continuums of Care and Service Providers Webinar

This webinar (run time 10:34) gives an overview of how the HUD multifamily homeless preference works in privately owned, HUD-subsidized multifamily properties, and notes the importance of the preference in the federal strategic plan to end homelessness. It explains the key role of Continuums of Care and local homeless service providers — both in recruiting property owners to adopt the preference, and in sustaining the homeless preference once implemented. The webinar reviews best practices in designing a services and referral package to pair with the homeless preference in HUD multifamily housing and provides a planning roadmap for local communities wishing to promote the preference.

This webinar is intended for Continuums of Care, homeless service providers, and government agencies.

Date Published: November 2016

Opening Doors Through Multifamily Housing: Toolkit for Implementing a Homeless Preference

This step-by-step toolkit facilitates community involvement and successful implementation of the homeless preference. This guide provides detailed discussion of the process including: Creating a multifamily planning and implementation team; Examining and understanding the community needs and available multifamily housing resources; Identifying and engaging service providers; Engaging multifamily property owners; Formalizing agreements between service Providers and owners; Supporting owners' implementation of the homeless preference; and Refining the process.

This toolkit is intended for housing owners, property management agents, government agencies, and homeless service providers.

Date Published: October 2015

Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs (HUD Handbook 4350.3) – Chapter 4: Waiting List and Tenant Selection

This handbook describes the occupancy requirements and procedures governing HUD’s subsidized multifamily housing programs. The handbook also addresses the procedures by which households apply for housing and the rights and responsibilities of in-place tenants and property owners. Chapter 4 describes requirements and options regarding activities that occur during the marketing, application, waiting list, and tenant selection processes.

Date Published: November 2013

Market Rate Multifamily Housing Owners and Managers

Continuum of Care Contact

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is an entity consisting of organizations in the same geographic area that provides services to persons experiencing homelessness. Contact your local CoC to find ways to partner with local service providers to house homeless individuals and families.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.

Housing Choice Vouchers Information for Landlords

This web page provides the top 20 FAQs asked by landlords who want to know more about the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Housing Choice Vouchers Information for Tenants

This fact sheet provides an overview of the housing choice voucher program including who is eligible to apply, the application process, and the roles and responsibilities of tenants, property owners, housing authorities, and HUD.

Public Housing Agency Contact Information

Property owners and managers who want to rent to housing voucher holders should inform the local Housing Authority of the availability of their properties and also indicate in their advertising that voucher holders are welcome. Ultimately, it is the voucher holder's decision whether or not to rent an apartment or house. Management agents must screen voucher holders just as they would any other prospective tenant.

Fair Market Rents

Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are published on an annual basis by HUD using a combination of surveys and the American Community Survey (ACS). FMRs are established at the 40th percentile of gross rents in a jurisdiction. In rural areas the jurisdiction often consists of only one county, while in more urban places it will include a cluster of counties, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). FMRs are used as a guide to determine the level of HUD subsidy for various HUD programs such as the Housing Choice Voucher (including HUD-VASH) and homelessness programs such as the Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG). However, the FMR is not in itself the standard used for determining eligible rents. Each HUD rental assistance program is governed by its own set of statutes and regulations which determine how much rent HUD will pay.

Payment Standards and Fair Market Rents FAQs

This FAQ describes rules around housing choice voucher payment standards and provide some guidance for Public Housing Agencies and other partners on how rent standards may be increased in certain circumstances.