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Homeless Housing Set-Aside Procedures -- Section 11b

Policy Statement
DND requires rental housing developments with ten (10) units or greater to include a minimum set-aside of ten percent (10%) of the rental housing units for homeless families and/or individuals with an income no greater than thirty percent (30%) of the median income for the BMSA) (the "Set-aside Units").

Eligible Participants
"Homeless Household" shall mean:

1)      A Household who, prior to occupancy, lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and who has a primary nighttime residence that is:
a. A public or private place not meant for human habitation (e.g. cars, parks, sidewalks, abandon buildings); or
b. A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including congregate shelters, scattered site shelters, or motels); or
c. A transitional housing program specifically designed for homeless persons with a stay of no longer than 24 months; or
d. In any of the above places but is spending a short time (up to 30 consecutive days) in a hospital or other institution.
2)      A Household who, though currently housed, is in imminent danger of homelessness for any of the following reasons and for whom no subsequent residence has been identified and who lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing:
a. Is being evicted within a week from a private dwelling unit;
b. Is being discharged within a week from an institution, such as a mental health or substance abuse treatment facility, in which the person has been a resident for more than 30 consecutive days;
c. Is fleeing a domestic violence housing situation;
d. Is being displaced because a family member has provided information on criminal activities to a law enforcement agency and, as a result, there is a threat of violence against the family;
e. Is being displaced because a family member has been threatened, intimidated, or violated because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or familial status; or
f. Is being displaced because a family member has a mobility or other impairment which impedes their access to a critical element of the unit and the owner is not legally obligated to make changes to this unit that would make these elements accessible to the disabled person as a reasonable accommodation.
In such event that the property owner cannot identify a sufficient number of Homeless Households that meet definitions 1) or 2) above to fill all Set-Aside Units, then the property owner may fill remaining Set-aside Units with Formerly Homeless Households.

"Formerly Homeless Household" shall mean:

3)      A Household that has graduated in a homeless shelter or transitional program within the prior twelve (12) months and who currently receives stabilization services from that shelter or program and that has not yet secured safe, decent, and affordable housing.

4)      A Household that has resided in a homeless shelter or transitional program within the prior twelve (12) months, including the date upon which their application to the development was submitted, and that has not yet secured safe, decent and affordable housing.

A Household is considered not to have secured safe, decent and affordable housing if any of the following conditions exist:
(1) They are rent burdened, defined as paying more than 50% of their unadjusted income toward rent and utilities; or
(2) They are doubled-up, defined as residing without authority in a rental unit and jeopardizing the tenancy of the leaseholder; or
(3) They are residing in an overcrowded situation, as defined by the Massachusetts Sanitary Code and HUD Housing Quality Standards.
In order to be approved for a Set-Aside Unit subsidized under the Section 8 Project Based Assistance (PBA) program, the Household must be must be determined eligible for Priority One status as outlined in the Boston Housing Authority's Administrative Plan.

Outreach, Screening & Selection
Clearinghouse: DND has contracted with HomeStart, Inc., a Boston-based housing organization, to serve as a Clearinghouse for the Set-Aside Units. As such, HomeStart monitors leasing activity and provides information and outreach to potential applicants and referral sources for the Set-Aside Units. HomeStart also has capacity to provide limited stabilization services to Homeless Households for up to one year after placement. HomeStart, which primarily serves the single adult population, has subcontracted with Homes for Families, a collaboration of family shelter providers, for the provision of outreach and stabilization to homeless families. In order that accurate data is maintained on the Set-Aside program, the Borrower must notify HomeStart when a vacancy is anticipated or has occurred.

Non-Section 8 Project Based Assisted Units: The Borrower is responsible to ensure that adequate and appropriate outreach is done to identify eligible Homeless Households for the Set-Aside Units. For Non-Section 8 Project Based Assisted Units, the Borrower may elect to fill vacant units solely with applicants referred from HomeStart/ Homes for Families or they may outreach to and accept referrals from the community including, but not limited to health and social service providers and homeless and housing organizations. Regardless of the source of referral, the Borrower must verify that the household is homeless as defined above and provide written verification to HomeStart within fourteen (14) days of their taking occupancy of the Set-Aside Unit.

For Non-Section 8 Project Based Assisted Set-Aside units, if the Borrower lists the vacancy with and does not receive a referral from Homestart/Homes for Families within fourteen (14) days or if none of the homeless applicants referred meet tenant selection standards or, if selected, accept the offer of tenancy, then the vacant unit may be offered to a Formerly Homeless Household earning up to thirty percent (30%) of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size.

If the Borrower first lists the unit with another source such as homeless service agency and does not receive a referral within fourteen (14) days or if none of the homeless applicants referred meet tenant selection standards or, if selected, accept the offer of tenancy, then the vacant unit must be listed with HomeStart/Homes for Families.

The priority is for the Set-Aside Units to be leased to Homeless Households. If the Borrower is primarily offering the Set-Aside Units to Formerly Homeless Households, DND has authority to require the Borrower to demonstrate that all reasonable efforts have been made to outreach to and identify suitable Homeless Households.

Section 8 Project Based Assisted Units: For projects utilizing Section 8 Project Based Assisted (PBA) units from the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) to fulfill the Set-Aside requirement, the Borrower shall accept applications only from the Boston Housing Authority. The BHA will refer applicants within fourteen (14) days of notification of a vacancy. If the Borrower does not offer a unit to the initial referral from the BHA or if the referral rejects the offer of a unit, the Borrower shall again notify the BHA of the vacancy and provide fourteen (14) additional days for a new referral, and so on, until the unit is rented to a Homeless Household or the BHA fails to provide a new referral within a fourteen (14) day period.

If a Homeless Household is not identified for the Set-Aside Unit within sixty (60) days of the initial notification, then the Borrower may rent the unit to a Formerly Homeless Household from the BHA's Section 8 waiting list so long as the Household's income is below 30% of the Area Median Income adjusted for household size. In this case, when the unit is subsequently vacated, it shall be offered exclusively to Homeless Households.

Regardless of the source of referral, written verification of the Household's homeless status must be provided to HomeStart within fourteen (14) days of their taking occupancy of the Set-Aside Unit. HomeStart also has authority to request verification of continued tenancy.

Tenant Selection: The Borrower shall adopt tenant screening and selection criteria that recognizes the unique circumstances of Homeless Households and appropriately mitigates negatives aspects associated with homelessness and/or the Household's past housing history. In reviewing the application, the Borrower or his designee must consider references from the Household's service provider, current employer, or other such party with information pertinent to assessing the Households ability to maintain a successful tenancy.

Other Issues
Number and Type of Set-Aside Units: Projects including ten (10) or greater rental housing units must include a minimum set-aside of ten percent (10%) of the rental housing units for homeless families and/or individuals. Normal standards of rounding shall apply; i.e., if the project has fourteen (14) rental units, it must include one (1) Set-Aside Unit and if it has sixteen (16) units, it must include two (2) Set-Aside Units. The distribution by bedroom size of the Set-Aside Units must be proportional to the overall configuration of the project, unless otherwise approved by DND.

Leasing the Set-Aside Units:
New Construction or Rehab with Current Vacancies: With regard to new construction rental housing developments, those that are rehabilitation projects which contain existing vacancies, the Borrower must first fill the Set-Aside Units until the obligation has been satisfied.

Fully-Occupied Projects: When a project is fully occupied and there is an existing waiting list, the Borrower has the option to fill the every other vacant unit with applicants from the waiting list. However, all Set-Aside units must be filled within three (3) years.

Turnover: Should any Homeless Set-aside Unit become vacant, then that unit shall continue to be considered part of the Homeless Household Set-aside with initial rents set and subsequent vacancies filled by eligible households in compliance with this policy.

Rent Guideline: Initial rents for the Homeless Set-Aside Units shall not exceed thirty percent (30%) of the income for a Household earning thirty percent (30%) of the Area Median Income adjusted for family size.

Tenant Based Subsidy: The Borrower may lease a Homeless Set-Aside Unit to a homeless Household receiving assistance under a tenant based rental subsidy program, provided that the Household meet all other eligibility guidelines. The Contract rent must rent reasonable as determined by the Section 8 administering agency and may not require the Homeless Household to pay over 30% of their adjusted income for housing costs (rent and utilities).

Section 8 Project Based Subsidy: The Borrower may utilize Section 8 Project Based Assistance subsidies in order to meet the Homeless Set-Aside requirement. However, if the request for Section 8 PBA subsidies is rejected, the Borrower remains obligated to meet the Set-Aside obligation.

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