Affordable Apartment Living FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is low income housing?

A: It is often referred to as subsidized, section 8, affordable or low rent apartments. This means the rents in covered buildings are subsidized by the Federal government and are designed for seniors, families, and/or adults with disabilities who enjoy living independently (some may also need support services or care) but require the financial assistance provided through a subsidy.

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Q:  What are some types of housing available?

A:  There are many different programs including project based section 8, tenant-based voucher assistance, low-income public housing, multi-family housing programs, tax credit, and many more. Check out your local housing authority or HUD and see what is available in your area.

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Q: What is Project Based Section 8?

A: An affordable housing program offered by the federal government. In project based section 8, applicants need not previously obtained a voucher or other “tenant-based” assistance. If qualified, applicants will be provided assistance by the particular project at which they apply. Project based section 8 has various requirements in place, applicants must be able to meet. In general HUD requirements specifiy that applicants must be income eligible, must programmatic requirements related to citizenship status, and other qualifications and meet any other implemented selection criteria. On acceptance for residency, tenants pay monthly rent which equals approximately 30% of their adjusted monthly income. Medical expenses and other applicable deductions may be included-in accordance with HUD requirements-to calculate adjusted income.

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Q: What is a reasonable accommodation?

A:  Disabled individuals are entitled to make requests and receive permission from owners for “reasonable accommodations” to rules, practices, policies and services. These may be something necessary to help the disabled person have equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

A reasonable accommodation is a change, exception or adjustment to a program, service, building, dwelling unit or workplace that allows a qualified individual to:

-participate fully in a program

-take advantage of a service

-live in a dwelling; or

-perform a job.

Generally, when an individual requests a reasonable accommodation, an owner must provide the reasonable accommodation unless doing so would result in a fundable alteration in the nature of the program or an undue financial or administrative burden.

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Q: What is Program Eligibility?

A: The household’s annual income may not exceed the applicable income limit. The applicant must need the subsidy. The Applicant must be willing to pay the rent calculated using HUD rules. The unit must be the household’s only residence. The applicant must disclose the social security number of household members. All adults must sign the Authorization for Release of Information and all information relevant to eligibility and level of assistance must be verified. The applicant must meet the documentation requirements of citizenship or eligible immigration status.

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Q: What is Project Eligibility?

A: Some projects or units within some projects were developed for specific types of households, most frequently for elderly families or persons with disabilities. To be eligible, an applicant must qualify as the designated family type. Unit size standards established for the project must be met.

Denver County-

The Olin Hotel-age 62 and older or individuals with disabilities

Emerson Gardens-age 62 and older

Servicios-age 62 and older or individuals with disabilities

September House/The Decatur-62 and older with two person household

Grand County-

Grand Living/Silver Spruce-age 62 and older or individuals with disabilities

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Q: What are the income limits for HUD?

A: HUD establishes and annually updates income limits by geographic area. These limits are published to account for the number of family members that will reside in the unit. Income eligibility is determined by comparing the household’s gross annual income to the income limits applicable to the properties geographic location.

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      Q: What are the current income limits in Colorado?

 A: Go to huduser.org on the internet for the current income limits.

 These are effective as of May 31, 2011.

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Q: Can I apply for housing with zero income?

A: Yes, you are eligible for Section 8, Rent Supplement, RAP, Section 202 PAC, Section 202 PRAC and section 811 PRAC properties. Section 8 tenants must pay a minimum Total Tenant Payment (generally referred to as the minimum rent) of $25.00. However, exemptions may be provided for long-term hardships if qualified.

Denver County-

The Olin Hotel

Emerson Gardens

Servicios

September House

The Decatur

Grand County-

Grand Living/Silver Spruce

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Q: What is a live-in aide?

A: A live-in aide is a person who resides with an elderly handicapped, or disabled person who:

-is determined essential to the care and well-being of the person; and

-is not obligated for the financial support of the person; and

-would not be living in the unit except to provide the necessary supportive services.

The household must provide verification from the person’s physician, psychiatrist, or other medical practitioner or health care provider that the live-in aide is needed to provide the necessary supportive services essential to the care and well-being of the person.

-A relative may be a live-in aide but must meet all requirements listed above

-A live-in aide qualifies for occupancy only so long as the individual needs support services

-The income of a live-in aide is not counted as a part of the household income

-Expenses for the services provided by the live-in aide may qualify as medical expenses.

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Q: What is HUD’s current definition of a person with disabilities?

A: A person with a disability, as defined in 42 U.S.C. 423. Has a physical, mental, or emotional impairment that: is expected to be of long-continued and indefinite duration; impacts the ability to live independently; and is of such a nature that the ability to live independently could be improved by more suitable housing; or has a developmentally as defined in 42 U.S.C. 6001.

Note: This definition is for eligibility and benefits purposes only. It differs from the definition of a person with disabilities as a protected class under section 504.

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Q: What is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and who does it protect?

A: Section 504 provides that no qualified individual with a disability should, only by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. This law protects persons with disabilities.

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Q: How is disability defined under Section 504?

A: An individual with a disability is any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The term physical or mental impairment may include, but is not limited to, conditions such as visual or hearing impairment, mobility impairment, HIV infection, mental retardation, drug addiction (except current illegal use of or addiction to drugs), or mental illness. The term major life activity may include seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, speaking, or working. Section 504 also protects persons who have a record of such impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment.

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Q: What is proof of a disability?

A: Verification of disability may be requested from a medical professional. The verification must state that the individual qualifies under the applicable definitions indentified under housing law. Owners must not seek to verify information about a persons’ specific disability other than obtaining a medical professional of qualification under the definition of a person with disabilities. Receipt of SSI does serve as proof of disability as described in the question below.

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Q: How does verification of disability for eligibility and allowances purposes using HUD’s definitions?

A: Receipt of VA benefits does not automatically qualify a person as disabled. A person may qualify as disabled even if benefits are not being received or if there is earned income. Receipt of SSI Disability may be used as verification of disability status since HUD and the Social Security Administration share a common definition of disabled.

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Q: What is Unit Size and what are the requirements?

A: There are no HUD programs requirements about the number or relationship of people who can share a bedroom. Owners must define occupancy standards in the tenant selection plan, taking into consideration fair housing and equal opportunity laws as well as local/state tenant landlord laws and zoning restrictions.

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SHO has implemented the following occupancy standards:

-No more than 2 persons should be required to occupy a bedrroom.

-Children of the same sex may share a bedroom.

-Unrelated adults and persons of the opposite sex may occupy separate bedrooms.

-Children may share a bedroom with a parent, if the parent so wishes. The decision is made by the parent.

Buffet, efficiency, studio unit 1-2 persons

One-bedroom unit 1-2 persons

Two-bedroom unit minimum 2 persons

A larger unit may also be assigned as a reasonable accommodation when a household member is a person with a disability or for medical reasons certified by a doctor. Verification of the need may be requested.

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Q: What is an Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan?

A: The owners of every multifamily property built or substantially rehabilitated since July 1972, must develop, submit for HUD approval, and implement an AFHMP. Owners of projects built or rehabilitated prior to July 1972 are not required to have a plan but must affirmatively market their units to those least likely to apply. The Plan is intended to promote equal housing choice for all prospective tenants in market area. It must be in compliance with the Fair housing Act amendments and Section 504.

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Q: What is a Tenant Selection Plan?

A: Owners must have a written tenant selection plan including descriptions of the eligibility requirements and income limits used for admission at the property. It must include: project-based eligibility requirements, income limits, procedures for taking applications and selecting applications from the waiting list, occupancy standards, unit transfer policies, civil rights and nondiscrimination requirements, eligibility for students, VAWA (violence against women act), EIV, existing tenant search procedure, policies for removing applicants, owner selection criteria, and policies for opening and closing the waiting list. Owners should review at least annually to ensure they reflect current HUD requirements and owner policies. HUD does not approve plans but if they become aware that a plan circumvents HUD rules or in noncompliance with equal opportunity requirements, the owner must modify the plan accordingly.

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Q: What is EIV?

A: EIV is a web-based computer system containing employment and income information desired from federal/state government departments. EIV matches tenant information of individuals participating in HUD’s rental assistance programs to independently verify income information and employment history. EIV has the capability to uncover cases of potential identity theft and reported/underreported income with the HUD’s mission of ensuring the “right benefits go to the right people.”

For more information, review HUD EIV Publication:

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_7877.pdf

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Q: Is there a cost to apply?

A: No, The costs associated with any screening or application are considered a project expense and are not be charged to applicants in accordance with HUD regulations.

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Q: Can an owner require a physical exam or medical testing?

A: No, Owners are prohibited from requiring physical examinations or medical testing as a condition of admission.

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Q: Can an owner require participation in meal programs?

A: No, not unless this is approved by HUD.

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Q: Can an owner require donations, contributions, or membership fees or any other payment not provided for in the lease?

A: Yes, if the meal program has been approved by HUD.

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Q: Why would someone get rejected or denied rental assistance?

A: Applicants may be rejected if:

-If applicants are ineligible.

-They do not meet the tenant criteria including the occupancy standards and screening criteria established in the Tenant Selection Plan.

-They are unable to disclose and document Social Security numbers.

-They fail to sign and submit verification consent forms or the Authorization for Release of Information (HUS-9887 and HUD-9887-A).

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Q: What rights does a rejected applicant have?

A: The applicant must be notified of the reason(s) for the rejection, their right to respond in writing or request a meeting within 14 days, and their right to request reasonable accommodations to participants in the informal hearing process (if applicable). The meeting to discuss the rejection must be conducted by a staff member who was not included in the decision to deny admission. The applicant will be notified in writing of the final outcome within five days of the meeting.

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Q: How is Annual Income determined?

A: This is the gross amount of income anticipated to be received by a family during the 12 months following the effective date of examination or reexamination.

Earned income-wages and salaries that comes directly from a job or business.

Unearned income-periodic payments and benefit income such as welfare assistance, social security or disability benefits, and pensions and retirement funds. In addition it can also be unemployment, disability compensation, worker’s compensation and severance pay.

Asset income-this comes from resources owned by the tenant. Such as a saving or checking account, stock and bonds, insurance settlements, inheritances, some personal property, land, etc.

See CFR 5.609(b) and (c) for a complete list of income inclusions and exclusions.

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Q: What are some deductions related to annual income?

A: There are five:

Three are available to any assisted family

-A $480 deduction for each dependent

-Reasonable child-care expenses for children 12 years old and under; and

-Allowable care attendant and auxiliary apparatus costs for disabled family members (disability assistance expense)

-Two are available ONLY for households in which the head, spouse, or co-head is elderly or a person with a disability

-Allowable medical expenses

(List of deductable and Non-deductable expenses)    http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_35703.pdf 

-A $400 elderly household deduction

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Q: Does the leases need to be in English?

A: Leases may need to be conveyed in languages other than English, but tenants must sign the English version of the lease. The head of household, spouse, co-head, and all adult members of the household must sign the lease. Separate agreements may be needed for services not normally included in rent, such as parking, etc. An initial lease is required in all programs but it can range from one month to multiple years.

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Q: Can I have a pet or service/companion animal and is there a deposit?

A: Owners of properties for the elderly or persons with disabilities may not prohibit tenants form having common household pets and may not discriminate against applicants based on their ownership of a pet.

Per HUD, a common household pet is defined as “a domesticated animal such as a dog, cat, bird, rodent (including a rabbit), fish, or turtle that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than commercial purposes.” Reptiles other than turtles are not included.

Owners are permitted to ask for a refundable deposit for dogs or cats.  SHO’s current required deposit is $300.00 per unit. This deposit is in addition to any additional financial obligation generally imposed on tenants of the property.

The owner must not apply pet rules or deposits to assistance animals and their owners.

Service animals: the ADA defines as a guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability and allowing a person to have equal opportunity to use and enjoy his or her dwelling. Service animals include companion/support animals. They are considered service animals regardless whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. They have access to all places of public accommodation. Current law has no limits on type, size, and such animals are usually exempt from licensing requirements. They are often marked but not always as a service animal.

Support/Companion animals: HUD and several courts have ruled that a support animal is not a pet, here are some considerations for reasonable accommodations:

-the animal is not required to have formal training

-the animal can be either physical support or emotional support

-access in housing of all kinds but not in other public places

-reasonable limits on type and size can be considered and usually are not exempt from licensing requirements but owners cannot charge fees such as deposit, fees, or pet rent

-rarely marked as a support animal

Mandatory rules:

-Inoculation with state and local laws

-waste in designated areas and properly dispose of waste

-all pets must be under the control and properly restrained by the responsible individual while in common areas

-all pets must be registered before being brought on premises and must update this annually

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Q: What are House Rules?

A: They are rules must be reasonable and related to the safety, care, and cleanliness of the building or the safety and comfort of the tenants. They must comply with HUD requirements and state and local law and must not discriminate against individuals based on membership of protected classes.

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Q: Do I have to pay a deposit?

A: Refundable Security Deposits are required of all new applicants. Upon move-in applicants will be charged the greater of one month’s tenant payment or $50.00 within 30 days of the move-out date the Owner must either refund the full security deposit plus accrued interest (if applicable) or provide the tenant with an itemized list of any unpaid rent, damages to the unit and an estimated cost for repair, along with a statement of the tenant’s rights under state and local laws.

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Q: What is a recertification?

A: Owners must recertify family composition and income at least annually. Owners have the authority to screen tenants for drug and criminal activity at recertification. The anniversary effective date is usually the first day of the month the tenant was admitted to the project but this may vary.

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 Q: When do applicants need to advise the owner of changes?

A: The tenant is required to notify the owner immediately if any of the following occur:

-if a member moves out of the unit; or

-If the household proposed to move a new member into the unit

-any adult who obtains employment

-if the household’s income cumulatively increases by at least $200 per month

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This is only a small list of FAQs. To learn more visit www.hud.gov.