24 CFR 70.3 - Definitions.
(a) A volunteer, for purposes of this part, is an individual who performs service for a public or private entity for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered, on a HUD-assisted or insured project which is subject to a requirement to pay prevailing wage rates.
(1) Individuals shall be considered volunteers only where their services are offered freely and without pressure and coercion, direct or implied, from an employer.
(b) Expenses, reasonable benefits, or nominal fees may be provided to volunteers without the status of the volunteer being lost but only after a determination is made by HUD on a case-by-case basis by examining the total amount of payments made (expenses, benefits, fees) in the context of the economic realities of the particular situation. Subject to this determination:
(1) A payment for an expense may be received by a volunteer for items such as uniform allowances or reimbursement for reasonable cleaning expenses or wear and tear on personal clothing worn while performing the volunteer work. Additionally, reimbursement for approximate out-of-pocket expenses for the cost of meals and transportation expenses may be made.
(2) Reasonable benefits may constitute inclusion of individual volunteers in group insurance plans (such as liability, health, life, disability, workers' compensation) or pension plan or length of service awards.
(3) A nominal fee is not a substitute for compensation and must not be tied to productivity. The decision as to what constitutes “nominal” must be made on a case-by-case basis and in the context of the economic realities of the situation.
(4) The phrase economic realities means that in determining whether the fee described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section may be deemed “nominal”, the amount of the fee must be judged in the context of what paid workers doing the same work would earn in the particular locality involved. For example, a “payment” made to a “homeless” volunteer in an amount which covers basic necessities but nonetheless represents an insignificant amount when compared with local cost of living and real wages may be determined to be nominal for purposes of qualifying as a volunteer, provided the payment is not in fact a substitute for compensation and is not tied in any way to productivity.
(c) Prevailing wage rates, for purposes of this part, means:
(1) Wage rates required to be paid to laborers and mechanics employed in the construction (including rehabilitation) of a project (or in the case of public housing, the development of the project), as determined by the Secretary of Labor under the Davis-Bacon Act;
(2) Wage rates required to be paid to laborers and mechanics employed in the operation of a public housing project, as determined or adopted by the Secretary of HUD; and
(3) Wage rates required to be paid to architects, technical engineers, draftsmen and technicians employed in the development of a public housing project, as determined or adopted by the Secretary of HUD.