HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs issued Notice H 2014-16 on November 28, providing guidance regarding administration of waiting lists for Multifamily Housing properties. The Notice covers topics such as opening waiting lists, placing applicants on waiting lists, and outreach to potential applicants. The Notice does not require any new practices for owners; rather, it offers additional options to further ensure fair housing compliance.
The Notice is a response to concerns that individuals with disabilities may be at a disadvantage regarding waiting list placement. Owners must accommodate persons with disabilities who cannot use an owner’s preferred application process by providing alternative methods of application intake, such as accepting mailed or online applications.
When opening waiting lists, owners must place a notice in publications likely to be read by potential applicants. The notification must comply with fair housing requirements, such as adopting suitable means to ensure that the notice reaches individuals with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency. Owners must ensure that notices of and communications during all meetings are provided in a manner that is effective for persons with hearing, vision, and other communications-related disabilities consistent with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and as applicable, the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes ensuring that meeting sites are accessible, and that auxiliary aids and services are provided as needed, such as materials in Braille, audio, and large type; sign language interpreters; computer-assisted real time transcription (CART) services; and assistive listening devices.
The Notice cautions against opening waiting lists and accepting applications for limited periods, such as a single day, which may create disorderly and unsafe application intake processes. Opening waiting lists for longer periods and making applications available ahead of time can create safer and more effective application intake processes. Having both physical and online means to accept applications can help promote safety and accessibility for the application process.
Owners may consider using a lottery or other random choice techniques to place applicants on a waiting list and to determine the order in which they will be placed on it. This approach is reasonable to avoid unrealistic, long waiting periods in areas with a high volume of applications. It may also be appropriate where individuals who are unable to apply in person at the onset of the opening would be at a disadvantage. If this approach is used, an owner must describe it in the tenant selection plan and any public notice of a waiting list opening. Applicants should be informed that the timing of their application submission will not affect their placement on the waiting list. If a lottery or other random selection procedure is not used, reasonable accommodations must be made for individuals with disabilities who are unable to submit an application early in the process.
The additional options in the Notice are similar to some of the features in Notice PIH 2012-34, issued in 2012 by the Office of Public and Indian Housing, which administers the public housing and voucher programs (see Memo, 8/24/12)
Notice H 2014-16 is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=14-16hsgn.pdf
Additional HUD guidance is in Chapter 4 of HUD Handbook 4350.3 REV-1, Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/administration/hudclips/handbooks/hsgh/4350.3