HUD has issued guidance allowing private providers of housing designated as elderly-only to make units available to people under the age of 55 if they are evacuees from a Super Storm Sandy-declared disaster area. The waiver applies to any property in the nation.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was amended in 1988 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and familial status (that is, families with children). The act also contained a provision exempting senior housing because Congress intended to preserve housing specifically designated to meet the needs of elderly people.
The 1995 Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) modified the definition of housing for older persons. Under HOPA, at least 80% of the occupied units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older, or 100% of the occupied units must be occupied by persons aged 62 or older.
The guidance is in the form of 14 questions and answers. Some key points include:
- Admitting evacuees under age 55 is voluntary.
- Owners may choose not to admit younger evacuees with children, but those units will count toward the 20% of units that do not have to be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older.
- HUD does not require someone to prove that he or she is an evacuee.
- Owners may impose a time limit on admitting and housing younger evacuees, but HUD encourages them to allow people to remain as long as there is need.
- Younger evacuees may be asked to move to make room for someone 55 or older.