HUD Opens Senior Housing to Hurricane Sandy Evacuees
On Nov. 9, 2012, HUD chief John Trasviña released new guidelines to support housing providers that wish to help those displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Under the new guidelines, HUD will relax the rules to allow senior housing communities to admit evacuees under age 55 without jeopardizing their qualification for certain legal exemptions under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). Trasviña said he hoped the new guidelines would alleviate any fair housing concerns and encourage communities to open up available housing to families affected by Hurricane Sandy.
In general, the FHA bans housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. However, the law exempts certain communities from the familial status provisions—but only if they meet strict requirements to qualify as “housing for older persons.” Among other things, communities must ensure that at least one person 55 or older lives in at least 80 percent of its occupied units.
Under the new guidelines, a private housing provider of “housing for older persons” anywhere in the country may make units available to evacuees under the age of 55 and continue to qualify for the exemption to the familial status exemption. The new rules apply only if the vacant units are made available to evacuees without restrictions on the basis of familial status. If the community decides to admit only those without children, the units where the evacuees reside will be counted among the occupied units as other residents.
For more information, see the letter and accompanying guidelines at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=sandyguidance.pdf.