0770-01-05-.06 - APPLICATION PROCESS

0770-01-05-.06. APPLICATION PROCESS

(1) Pre-Application Stage.

(a) Each person who expresses a desire to participate in the program is given an equal opportunity to apply for assistance, unless the taking of pre-applications has been suspended.

(b) Due to the high volume of applicants for the HCV Program, the THDA is often unable to offer immediate assistance and may at times maintain an applicant waiting list through pre-application procedures or suspend the taking of pre-applications altogether. See 0770-01-05-.06(7)(d).

(c) However, an applicant does not have any right or entitlement to be listed on a waiting list, to any particular position on a waiting list, or to admission to the HCV Program. 24 C.F.R. 982.202.

(d) Pre-application. The purpose of the pre-application is to have available waiting lists of applicants per county for which applications are being accepted.

1. The pre-application has less information than a full application, but enough information to determine placement on a waiting list and preliminary eligibility. The information on the pre-application is not verified on a routine basis. 24 C.F.R. 982.201-206.

(e) The THDA maintains its information regarding open and closed waiting lists on its website, www.THDA.org.

(f) A household wishing to apply for the HCV Program must complete a pre-application form at www.THDA.org. for a county with an open waiting list.

(g) Any household member may complete the online pre-application or the household may elect to have another person complete the application on the household's behalf.

(h) Once an applicant household has applied, the applicant may only have one active application per county at any time, but may apply to multiple county waiting lists.

1. If an applicant applies to a county where they already have an active application, the most recent application will not be processed or added to the waiting list.

2. An applicant is considered to have an active application until housed or denied assistance.

(i) A participant currently housed with a voucher through the THDA may not reapply and receive assistance under a concurrent voucher. The subsequent application will be denied. The proper procedure would be to request to move the existing voucher through the THDA. See Moving/Portability 0770-01-05-.25.

(2) Disability Accommodation. A person with a disability may request a special accommodation when applying by contacting the local THDA field office that manages the selected waiting list and scheduling an appointment. Also see 0770-01-05-.30 on Disability.

(a) The THDA may choose to accept a written pre-application, assist the applicant with completing the online pre-application process at a THDA computer, or other alternative method determined by the THDA to be an accommodation for an individual's disabling condition.

(3) Natural Disaster Preference. A written pre-application will be accepted from applicants that qualify for the natural disaster preference and may be obtained through the local THDA field office. See 0770-01-05 -06(7)(h)4.

(4) Confirmation Page. After the applicant submits the online pre-application, the system directs the applicant to print a confirmation page of the pre-application.

(a) The confirmation page includes the date and time the pre-application was submitted.

(b) It also informs the applicant that the applicant must report any address changes upon occurrence in order to remain on the waiting list.

(c) If the applicant completes a written pre-application as a reasonable accommodation or a natural disaster preference, a confirmation letter will be mailed to the applicant at the address listed on the pre-application.

(5) The pre-application is only maintained electronically in the tenant file record within the HCV Program software system.

(6) Selection of Applicants (24 C.F.R. 982.202).

(a) The THDA may select applicants for participation in the program by a waiting list admission or by a special admission.

(7) Waiting List Admission Process (24 C.F.R. 982.204).

(a) General.

1. During an open enrollment period for a particular county, when there are more applicants than there are available vouchers for that county, a waiting list will be established of applicants that appear to be eligible.

2. Under 24 C.F.R. 982.202, there is no right or entitlement afforded to an applicant to be listed on a waiting list, to any particular position on a waiting list, or to be admitted to the HCV Program.

3. Applicants under Other Housing Programs. An occupant of public housing, or any other housing program, may apply to participate in the HCV Program, but will not receive a preference based on their participation in the other housing program, and will go through the regular waiting list process like any other applicant.

(b) Public Notice.

1. When the THDA opens a waiting list to accept new pre-applications online, public notice will be given to alert families that they may apply for the HCV Program.

2. The public notice will be given per publication in a local newspaper of general circulation, on the THDA's website and phone system, or other suitable means.

3. The public notice will notify potential applicants where, when, and how to apply, give the THDA's website address, include a brief description of the HCV Program, provide information for requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability in submitting the pre-application, comply with Fair Housing requirements, and state any limitations on who may apply for available slots.

(c) Maintenance. The waiting list is maintained in the HCV Program software system and includes:

1. The date and time the pre-application was submitted.

2. County specification.

3. Name, Social Security number, race, and gender of the head of household.

4. Family unit size (voucher size) (24 C.F.R. 982.204(b)).

5. Annual Income and Assets at the time of pre-application submission.

6. Current residential/physical address, including zip code, of the head of household.

7. Mailing address of the head of household, if different than the residential/physical address.

8. Local Preference Specification.

9. Position on the waiting list.

10. Program Status (eligible, ineligible, housed).

(d) Closing a Waiting List - Suspension of Pre-application Acceptance.

1. Once a county waiting list contains more applicants than the THDA determines may be served within the next twelve-month (12) time period, the waiting list will be closed, will remain closed, and the acceptance of pre-application will be suspended until the number of applicants on the list is reduced and/or vouchers are available for issuance.

2. See the exception to the suspension of pre-applications acceptance during a closed enrollment period under Preferences below.

(e) Updating/Purging a Waiting List.

1. The THDA will update a waiting list by issuing purge notices to applicants as needed in order to ensure that a waiting list is current and accurate.

2. The THDA will mail a purge notice to all applicants' last given address requesting information regarding an applicant's continued interest in maintaining a place on a particular county's waiting list.

3. The purge notice will include a deadline date by which applicants must inform the THDA of their continued interest by returning the purge notice to the appropriate THDA field office within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of the notice.

4. An applicant will be removed from the waiting list(s) if:

(i) The applicant requests in writing to be removed from the waiting list(s);

(ii) The applicant is deceased; or

(iii) The applicant fails to respond to a purge notice by the 14-day deadline date.

(I) Failure to Update Address. If the failure to respond is due to an applicant not receiving the purge notice because the household relocated and does not currently live at the address provided to the THDA or the purge notice is returned to the THDA by the post office for insufficient address or expiration of a forwarding address, the applicant will be removed from all waiting lists for failure to comply with the requirement of always providing the THDA with a current address, unless the applicant can prove that a change of address was submitted to the THDA prior to or simultaneously to the postmark date of the Purge Notice.

(II) Failure to Return the Purge Notice to the THDA by the Deadline.

I. If the purge notice is returned to the THDA by mail, it must be postmarked no later than 14 calendar days from the date of the Purge Notice and the THDA will not accept any responsibility for mail delays.

II. If the purge notice is returned to the THDA by email, fax, or hand delivery, the THDA must receive it within 14 calendar days of the date of the Purge Notice.

III. The applicant shall bear the burden of proof where the applicant argues that the notice was not received due to circumstances beyond the applicant's control. Sufficient proof includes, but is not limited to, an affidavit, sworn and notarized, from the postmaster for the local post office responsible for delivering the mail to the applicant's address that there have been problems with delivery that might have caused the notice to not be properly delivered. Other sufficient proof must be at least as independently reliable as a letter from the postmaster in order to satisfy the applicant's burden of proof.

5. Applicants with Disabilities. An applicant with a disability that is removed from the waiting list(s) for failure to respond may inform the THDA that the non-response was due to the disability and request to be re-instated to the former position on the waiting list(s) as a reasonable accommodation. See 0770-01-05-.30.

(i) The applicant must provide the appropriate requested verifications to the THDA within fourteen-calendar (14) days of a THDA request of verification.

(f) Selection of Applicants from a Waiting List.

1. As vouchers become available for a particular county, the THDA will determine whether there are enough applicants to meet the funding.

(i) If there are not enough applicants on the waiting list, then the waiting list for that county will be opened to take pre-applications.

(ii) When there are enough applicants on the waiting list, the waiting list is closed and sorted and applicants are selected from the waiting list typically by the date and time the pre-application was submitted and any local preference.

2. Lottery Selection. Per HUD guidelines, the THDA may choose to select applicants from a waiting list by a lottery, a random computer selection. If lottery selection is utilized, all waiting list applicants will be notified that the lottery selection will be utilized for the selection of applicants from the particular waiting list.

(g) Local Preferences. Under 24 C.F.R. 982.207, the THDA may establish local preferences for the selection of applicants from the waiting list based on local housing needs and priorities as determined by the THDA.

1. The THDA has adopted the following local preferences and have weighted them as follows:

(i) Involuntary Displacement Due to Natural Disaster Preference.

(ii) Local Residency Preference.

(iii) Elderly or Disabled Families Preference.

2. To ensure that pre-applications are weighted properly by local preference and date and time of the pre-application, applicants will not be selected during an open-enrollment period. A waiting list must be closed and sorted before any applicant is selected.

3. The THDA verifies preferences for applicants selected by sending the applicant a preference claim and verification form, which must be received by the THDA no later than fourteen (14) calendar days from the date of the request for verification, subject to the THDA's Mail Policy. See 0770-01-05-.20.

(i) If the preference does not verify, then the applicant is placed in the proper order on the waiting list without the preference. An applicant may request an informal review for the denial of the preference.

(ii) If the THDA does not receive the verification before the deadline, the THDA will send a notice of denial of preference and a notice of opportunity for informal review.

(iii) If the preference verifies, then the THDA proceeds to final eligibility verification. (HCV GB, pp. 4-17 - 4-18).

4. Involuntary Displacement Due to Natural Disaster Preference.

(i) Eligibility. Applicant households that have been involuntarily displaced from their primary residence due to a natural disaster (fire, flood, tornado, etc.) may claim a local preference as long as all of the following conditions have been met:

(I) The household must not have secured permanent replacement housing at the time of the pre-application;

(II) The displacement event must have occurred within the state of Tennessee;

(III) The displacement event must have occurred within the past six (6) months; and

(IV) There must be major damage to the primary residence caused by the natural disaster that occurred within Tennessee that renders the unit uninhabitable. The preference is not available for minor storm damage, including but not limited to, reparable siding and shingles blown off in a storm.

(ii) Verification.

(I) The applicant must provide a valid Tennessee Driver License or Tennessee Identification Card;

(II) The applicant must demonstrate by proof of ownership, lease, or other documentation, that the damaged unit is the applicant's primary residence; and

(III) At the time the pre-application is submitted, the applicant must provide documentation from a third-party source that verifies that the damage to the unit from the natural disaster made the unit uninhabitable within fourteen calendar days.

I. The documentation should include the type of damage that made the unit uninhabitable and the date the damage occurred; and

II. If the displacement was due to a fire, the applicant must present a fire or damage report from a reputable source (local fire department, The American Red Cross, etc.) that verifies the fire caused the unit to be uninhabitable, the date the damage occurred, and that no member of the household on the pre-application caused the fire to occur.

(IV) If the THDA does not receive the third-party verification within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date the pre-application is submitted, the pre-application and preference will be denied and the applicant will be placed in the proper order on the waiting list without the preference and may request an informal review for the denial of the preference.

(iii) Availability of Funding. If funding does not become available within six (6) months from the date of the displacement event, the preference will be denied and the applicant will be placed in the proper order on the waiting list without the preference and may request an informal review for the denial of the preference.

(iv) Closed Enrollment. Even during periods of closed enrollment, when the acceptance of pre-applications has been suspended, the THDA will accept a handwritten pre-application form from an applicant that claims a natural disaster local preference according to the above procedures and the following:

(I) If the THDA receives the third-party verification within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date the pre-application is submitted and a subsidy voucher is available, the applicant must complete a Personal Declaration and eligibility will be determined.

(II) If the THDA receives the third-party verification within 14 calendar days of the date the pre-application is submitted and a subsidy voucher is not available, the applicant will be placed on the waiting list by preference and date of the pre-application until a voucher is available for a maximum of six (6) months from the date of the displacement event.

(III) When the THDA is going to call in applicants from any particular county's waiting list, any applicant with this preference will be called in before other applicants on the waiting list, even if the applicant with the natural disaster preference was not listed on the waiting list for that county, and such applicant may be issued a voucher for any county they wish.

(IV) If funding does not become available within 6 months from the date of the displacement event, the pre-application will be denied and the applicant will be placed in the proper order on the waiting list without the preference.

(V) If the THDA does not receive the third-party verification within 14 calendar days of the date the pre-application is submitted, the pre-application and preference will be denied and the applicant will be placed in the proper order on the waiting list without the preference and may request an informal review for the denial of the preference.

5. Local Residency Preference. A Local Residency Preference may be claimed by an applicant on a pre-application for assistance when, at the time the pre-application is submitted, the applicant actually lives in the county the pre-application was submitted for.

(i) The residential/physical address entered on the pre-application will be used to determine residency.

(ii) If an applicant selects the local residency preference and enters a residential/physical and/or mailing address that is not actually local, the THDA will not contact the applicant to verify the preference, but will remove the preference selection and return the applicant to the appropriate position on the waiting list.

(I) A post office box address within the county of application is not sufficient proof to verify residency and qualify the family for the local residency preference.

6. Elderly or Disabled Families Preference. An applicant may claim the Elderly or Disabled Families Preference when the applicant's household contains an elderly (sixty-two (62) years of age or older) or disabled head of household or spouse that receives social security, social security disability, or supplemental security income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA), determined at the time of the eligibility determination.

(i) Verification. Applicant must bring a current benefit letter from the SSA to their eligibility appointment. Persons who have applied for SSI, but are not receiving SSI income, do not qualify for the preference.

(h) Split Household Waiting List Determination. Applicant households may have a change in a family/household composition due to a legal separation, divorce, etc., which results in a split of the household into two otherwise eligible households, where each household wants to retain the current position on the waiting list(s), but only one household unit may retain the position.

1. If the households cannot agree which one should retain the position on the waiting list, unless there is a court determination, the THDA will make the determination considering the following:

(i) Which household member applied as head of household?

(ii) Which household retains children or disabled or elderly members?

(iii) Was domestic violence involved? See § 0770-01-05-.30 for a discussion on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

(iv) Were any restrictions or conditions in place at the time the original household applied?

2. The documentation of the above considerations will be the responsibility of the household requesting to retain the waiting list position.

3. The documentation must be provided to the THDA within fourteen-calendar (14) days from the date the household notifies the THDA of the change in family/household composition, and if not provided within such timeframe, the THDA will make the decision based on the head of household listed on the pre-application.

(i) Staff Responsibility for Waiting Lists. Any manipulation of a waiting list by a THDA employee, other than defined by this Administrative Plan, may result in the termination of the employee.

(Original rule filed May 16, 1980; effective June 30, 1980. Repeal and new rule filed September 28, 2004; effective December 12, 2004. Repeal and new rule filed June 4, 2015; effective September 2, 2015. Amendments filed October 5, 2018; effective January 3, 2019.)

Authority: T.C.A. §§ 13-23-104, 13-23-115(18), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437, and 24 C.F.R., Part 982.

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