Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the Northeast, with major disaster areas declared across four states. Yet it is often times of great adversity that bring out the best in us all. Throughout the affected areas and throughout the country, communities have come together, hearts and doors have opened, and the warmth of collective compassion is helping to fill the void left by devastation and loss.
Providers of housing for seniors, ordinarily exempt from the familial status discrimination (discrimination against families with minor children) prohibition of the Fair Housing Act, have contacted HUD looking for a way to open vacant units to Sandy evacuees without sacrificing their exemption. HUD has responded by issuing guidance that will allow this.
In order to qualify for the familial status discrimination exemption, providers of housing for seniors must have 80% of their units occupied by at least one individual over the age of 55. The HUD guidance assures providers who open their doors to Hurricane Sandy evacuees that those units will be considered “unoccupied” for purposes of the exemption, so long as the vacant units are extended without regard to familial status. Providers wishing to open units to evacuees under the age of 55 but exclude children will have those units considered “occupied.”
HUD is committed to enabling communities to help those in need. Our hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and our gratitude to the providers of housing for older persons who open their doors to help.
Bryan Greene is the General Deputy Assistant Secretary in HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.