Boston Housing Authority

Policies > Admissions And Continued Occupancy Policy Ch 1: Introduction & Policy

Admissions And Continued Occupancy Policy

Chapter 1:Introduction & Policy

1.1 Introduction

Boston Housing Authority’s Mission Statement: It is the mission of the Boston Housing Authority (“BHA” or “the Authority”) to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low- and moderate-income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependence to economic self-sufficiency. 

This Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) describes the admission, occupancy and transfer policies by which the BHA determines eligibility for admission, selects prospective residents, assigns apartments, admits residents, and processes transfers, in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.

This ACOP is applicable to BHA Public Housing Developments only. The BHA’s Hope VI Program developments utilize a separate HUD approved admissions and occupancy system which can be obtained from the property management agent for those developments.

1.2  Statement of Nondiscrimination

1.2.1  Compliance with Federal and State Laws

It is the policy of the BHA to comply fully with existing Federal and State laws[1] protecting the individual rights of applicants, residents, or staff and any laws subsequently enacted.

1.2.2  Civil Rights and Fair Housing

The Authority does not discriminate because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, handicap, disability, national origin, ethnicity, familial status or marital status, in the leasing, rental, sale or transfer of apartments, buildings, and related facilities, including land that it owns or controls.[2]

The BHA shall not, on account of race, color, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, handicap, national origin, ethnicity, marital status or familial status:[3]

  • Deny to any Household the opportunity to apply for housing, or deny to any qualified Applicant the opportunity to lease housing suitable to his/her needs;
  • Provide housing which is different from that provided others except as required or permitted by law and in accordance with this Policy;
  • Subject any person to segregation or disparate treatment;
  • Restrict a person's access to any benefit enjoyed by others in connection with the housing program;
  • Treat a person differently in determining eligibility or other requirements for admission;
  • Deny a person access to the same level of services available to other similarly situated individuals; or
  • Deny a person the opportunity to participate in a planning or advisory group that is an integral part of the housing program.

1.2.3  Fair Admissions

The BHA shall not automatically deny admission to a particular group or category of otherwise eligible Applicants (e.g., Households with children born to unmarried parents or Households whose Head of Household or Co-Head of Household is a student).

Each Applicant in a particular group or category must be treated on an individual basis in the normal processing routine.

1.2.4  Reasonable Accommodations

The BHA shall make reasonable accommodations in policies and procedures and, if necessary and reasonable, make certain structural modifications for persons with disabilities (Applicants or residents) in accordance with the BHA’s Reasonable Accommodation in Housing Policy.  

  • The BHA cannot refuse to make a Reasonable Accommodation in rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with a physical or mental impairment equal opportunity to use and enjoy a BHA apartment, including public and common use areas.
  • The BHA must make a modification to existing premises, when requested by a Disabled person, if the modification is reasonable and necessary to afford equal opportunity to use and enjoy BHA premises.
  • An accommodation or structural modification is not reasonable if it would impose an undue administrative and financial burden on the BHA, or fundamentally alter the nature of the public housing program.  The burden of demonstrating that a requested accommodation is unreasonable and imposes an undue administrative and financial burden, or fundamentally alters the nature of the public housing program is on the BHA.  If granting the requested accommodation would create an undue administrative and financial burden, the BHA shall approve the request to the extent that it can do so without undergoing the undue burden or fundamental program alteration as described above.

Requests for accommodation with respect to documents used by the BHA should be made to the Authority’s TDD phone number, TTY phone number, Civil Rights Department, Occupancy Department, Development Manager’s Office, or the Housing Service Center.  In addition, although there are many different staff members who may review a request for reasonable accommodation, the BHA has a Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator who may be contacted for assistance. The Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator can be reached in the BHA’s Office of Civil Rights. The BHA Reasonable Accommodation in Public Housing Policy may also be consulted.

1.2.5 Records of Applications for Admission and Transfer

BHA records with respect to applications for admission and transfer shall indicate the following for each application:

  • Date and time of receipt;
  • The Applicant’s choice(s) of development(s).
  • The determination of the BHA as to eligibility or non-eligibility of the applicant or resident;
  • Where eligible, the apartment size for which eligible.
  • Where eligible the Priority and/or Preference category granted, if any and the date such eligibility is granted.
  • Race of Household Members (for statistical purposes only)
  • Status as a Disabled Household or Household Member  (See Section 5.3.2.G)
  • Name(s) of Household Member(s)
  •  Address of Household including mailing address
  •  Client number.

1.2.6  Records of Apartments Offered

The BHA will maintain a record of apartments offered and to whom offered, including the date, location, apartment identification, client number, circumstances of each offer, each acceptance or rejection, and the reason for any rejection.

1.2.7  Applicant/Transfer Applicant Appeal Procedure

An Applicant or resident who believes himself/herself to have been aggrieved by any action, inaction or decision of the BHA in the processing of his/her application for admission or transfer application shall have the right to a hearing.  Applicants for admission are entitled to an appeal before a hearing officer pursuant to the provisions of this Policy (see Section 4.1.4) and transfer applicants before the BHA Grievance Panel pursuant to BHA’s Tenant Grievance Procedures.

1.3  Accessibility and Plain Language

1.3.1  Accessible Facilities and Programs

Facilities and programs used by Applicants and residents shall be made accessible.  Application and management offices, hearing rooms, community centers, laundry facilities, craft and game rooms and other public spaces will be available for use by residents with disabilities.  If these facilities are not already accessible (and located on accessible routes), they will be made accessible so long as this does not impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the Authority.

1.3.2  Plain Language Paperwork

Documents intended for use by Applicants and residents will be presented in accessible formats for those with vision or hearing impairments and they will be written simply and clearly to enable Applicants and residents with learning or cognitive disabilities to understand as much as possible.  Requests for accommodation with respect to documents used by the BHA should be made to the Authority’s TDD phone number, TTY phone number, Civil Rights Department, Occupancy Department, or the Housing Service Center.

1.3.3  Forms of Communication other than Plain Language Paperwork

At the point of initial contact BHA staff shall ask all Applicants whether they need some form of communication other than plain language paperwork.  Some alternatives might include: sign language interpretation, having materials explained orally by staff, either in person or by phone, large type materials, information on tape, and having someone (friend, relative or advocate) accompany the Applicant to receive, interpret and explain housing materials.  The BHA will pay for sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired.

1.3.4  English Language Ability

Some Applicants will not be able to read (or to read English), so staff must be prepared to read and explain documents that they would normally hand to an Applicant to be read or filled out.  Applicants who read or understand little English may need to be provided with an interpreter who can explain what is occurring.  The BHA will make an effort to have its written materials translated into those languages frequently spoken by Applicants and to provide oral interpretation, upon request, in accordance with its Limited English Proficiency Policy (LEP).

1.4  Broad Range of Incomes (Income Mixing) and Deconcentration (Family Developments Only) 

In accordance with the Congressional mandate in the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 and with the approval of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Boston Housing Authority has adopted the federally required policies to provide for deconcentration of poverty and to encourage income mixing in all Family (general occupancy) developments.  BHA offers the plan below to facilitate both deconcentration and income mixing in BHA developments.  The goals of the plan are to provide a sufficient mixture of extremely low-income, very-low, and low-income Households at all BHA developments, and to avoid circumstances wherein higher-income or lower-income developments are created with respect to the Authority-wide average income.

1.4.1  Definitions

For the purposes of this Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP), Lower-Income Households are defined as Households whose annual income does not exceed eighty (80) percent of the Boston area median income (AMI), with adjustments for smaller and larger Households, as determined by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  In accordance with 24 CFR 5.603, HUD may establish income ceilings higher or lower than 80% of the median income for the area on the basis of HUD’s findings that such variations are necessary because of unusually high or low household incomes. However, with regard to state developments, state income rules of eligibility as defined in 760 CMR 5.00 or any successor regulations will apply. Within this category of Lower-Income Households, the following definitions apply:

  1. Low-Income Household

    A Low-Income Household is defined as a Household whose annual income exceeds fifty (50) percent but does not exceed eighty (80) percent of the Boston AMI, with adjustments for smaller and larger Households, as determined by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

  1. Very Low-Income Household

    A Very Low-Income Household is defined as a Household whose annual income exceeds thirty (30) percent of the Boston AMI but does not exceed fifty (50) percent of the AMI for the area with adjustments for smaller and larger Households, as determined by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

  1. Extremely Low-Income Household

    An Extremely Low-Income Household is defined as a Household whose annual income does not exceed the higher of federal poverty level or thirty (30) percent of the AMI for the Boston area, with adjustments for smaller and larger Households, as determined by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

1.4.2  Broad Range of Incomes (Income-Mixing)

It is the goal of BHA to attain, within a reasonable period of time, a resident population in each development composed of Lower-Income Households with a broad range of incomes.  BHA will make an effort to assure that each of its developments will include Households with a broad range of incomes generally representative of the range of Lower-Income Households in the City of Boston. 
 
To achieve and maintain the basic objective of housing Households with a broad range of incomes, BHA will review its waiting list to determine whether there is a representative income mix of Low, Very-Low, and Extremely-Low Income Households.  If there is not a representative income mix, BHA will consider strategies to encourage a greater income mix including, but not limited to, conducting targeted outreach efforts and/or establishing income Preferences.
 
Regardless of any discretionary strategies the BHA may adopt to achieve the goal of income mixing, the BHA will ensure that it meets the following targeting requirements as set forth by federal regulation:

In federal developments only, at least 40% of new admissions to the BHA’s public housing program during each fiscal year will be Extremely–Low Income Households.  (See Section 5.1.4 for additional Income Qualification criteria).

BHA may reduce the required percentage of public housing apartments to which Extremely-Low Income Households must be admitted to the extent that the BHA has credits, in the same fiscal year, for admissions of Extremely-Low Income Households to its Section 8 tenant-based assistance program beyond the number required for that program.  However, the BHA may not have more credits than the lesser of the following:

Ten percent of the total number of Households admitted to the Section 8 tenant-based assistance program during the fiscal year; OR

The number of the BHA’s public housing apartments in developments located in census tracts with a poverty rate of 30 percent or more that are made available and filled by eligible Households who are not Extremely-Low income Households.

During any fiscal year and regardless of the number of credits from Section 8 tenant-based assistance admissions, at least 30 percent of BHA admissions to public housing apartments will be Extremely–Low income Households.

1.4.3  Deconcentration

The admissions policies contained in this ACOP are designed to deconcentrate poverty.  This objective will be achieved by bringing higher-income Households into lower-income developments and/or lower-income Households into higher-income developments.  While information regarding specifics of each development is contained each year in the BHA’s Annual Plan, which is submitted to HUD and DHCD, below is an outline of BHA’s deconcentration policy.
 
The BHA will accomplish the deconcentration goal in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner.  While targeting certain levels of income for admission to BHA public housing, BHA will not intentionally concentrate lower-income Households, as defined below, in one public housing development or building within a development.

1.  Deconcentration – Identification Procedures

Annually, the BHA will calculate the average income at all BHA Family developments (“the Authority-wide average income”).  The Authority will also calculate the average income of all Households at each Development separately (“the Development average income”).    Developments in which the Development average income is above 115% of the Authority-wide average income will be considered “higher-income” developments.  Likewise, Developments in which the Development average income is below 85% of the Authority-wide average income will be considered “lower-income” Developments.

Definitions

The Authority-wide average income: The average income of all Households residing in BHA Family developments.  Such an average is used as a base measure from which Developments are either determined to be “higher-income” or “lower-income” for purposes of the BHA’s deconcentration policy.

The Development average income: The average income of all Households residing in a single BHA Family Housing development.

Higher-income Development: A development in which the Development average income is above 115% of the Authority-wide average income.

Lower-income Development: A development in which the Development average income is below 85% of the Authority-wide average income.

2.  Remedial Action

Based upon the above-mentioned analysis, the BHA will review the need to offer incentives to eligible families that would help accomplish the deconcentration objectives at individual developments.
Should the average income at a development(s) vary more than 15% from the Authority-wide average, the BHA may utilize some or all of the policies and/or incentives listed below:

  • Establish an income Preference in order to reach Applicant Households with lower or higher incomes as appropriate.
  • Initiate affirmative marketing strategies to all eligible income groups.
  • Provide additional applicant consultation and information.
  • Provide additional supportive services and amenities.
  • Provide rent incentives authorized by Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (“QHWRA”).
  • Targeting investment and capital improvements towards a development(s) below 85% of the Authority-wide average income.

1.4.4  Monitoring

As part of the BHA’s Annual Plan submission to HUD and as part of an annual report to DHCD, the BHA will annually monitor the income levels of Households residing in BHA housing and on the waiting list to assess its progress in attaining the deconcentration and income mixing goals. The BHA will calculate and compare the average Household incomes at each development with the Authority-wide average, as described above.  In addition, the income status of Applicants on the BHA’s waiting list will be analyzed to determine the percentage of Applicants with “Low,” “Very Low” and “Extremely Low” incomes.
 
The BHA will also ascertain its progress in meeting the income-targeting goal that requires in federal developments that 40% of new admissions must be Extremely-Low Income Households.  If the monitored data indicates any problems, BHA will alter its marketing and deconcentration strategies in accordance with this policy and federal and State requirements.

1.5  Civil Rights Protection Plan

It is the policy and obligation of the Boston Housing Authority to administer all aspects of its housing programs without regard to race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, religion, familial or marital status or handicap/disability. The BHA’s Civil Rights Protection Plan (“CRPP”) approved by the U.S. Department of Justice on July 26, 1999, is designed to protect Applicants, residents and their visitors from threats, harassment, violence or abuse while they are on BHA property.  (Please refer to the BHA’s CRPP for specific policies and procedures).


[1] Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the implementing regulations at 24 CFR Part 1; Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (as amended by the Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988); Executive Order 11063 on Equal Opportunity in Housing and the implementing regulations at 24 CFR Part 107; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the implementing regulations at 24 CFR Part 8; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and the implementing regulations at 24 CFR Part 146; and the implementing regulations at 24 CFR Parts 100,108,110, and 121. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the implementing regulations at 28 CFR Part 35 and M.G.L. Chapter 151B. For BHA’s state-aided housing, applicable regulations are found at 760 CMR 4.00, 5.00 and 6.00 covering housing developed under the Chapter 200, Chapter 667 and Chapter 705 programs.
 

[2]  Buildings must be owned by the Authority and covered by a contract for annual contributions under the United States Housing Act of 1937 for properties in the Federal program, and/or a Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Contract for Financial Assistance or operating funds for properties in the State program.
 

[3] See M.G.L. Chapter. 151B, § 4  and 42 U.S.C.  § 3601


Revision date:  09/19/16