How to Get HUD's Approval to House Over-Income Police or Security Officers
If you’re having problems with criminal activity or other undesirable conduct at or near your assisted site, you may want to house a police or security officer in one of your site’s units. The presence of a police or security officer may help deter crime at your site and help create a more pleasant and secure environment for your residents as a result. HUD lets you rent units to police or security officers even if they don’t meet the site’s income limits. And if you’re allowed to rent a unit to an officer, that officer’s household is allowed to live in the unit.
But before you can rent to police or security officers (and their households), you must request permission from HUD by submitting a written “plan” to your local HUD field office or contract administrator. We’ll give you some basics on the rules for housing police or security officers at your site. And we’ll tell you what information HUD requires you to include in the plan that you submit in seeking permission to do so. We’ll also give you a Model Letter: Get HUD’s Consent to House Police or Security Officer, which you can adapt and use to outline your plan and make your request.
Basics of Housing Police or Security Officers
Before you spend the time and effort to prepare a plan to submit to HUD requesting permission to house a police or security officer, you should know whether HUD rules allow you to do so. Here’s some basic information you need to consider.
Who qualifies as a police or security officer? To be eligible to occupy an assisted unit, the police or security officer must be a full-time employee—that is, she must work as a police or security officer at least 35 hours per week [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(2)]. HUD defines a security officer as a qualified security professional with adequate training and experience to provide security services for projects residents [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(1)].
And the officer must continue to be employed full-time while living in the assisted unit. You must evict an officer who’s working less than full time at any point during the term of his lease. In fact, HUD requires that your lease with the officer include a provision that explicitly states this requirement: that the right of occupancy in the unit is dependent on continued employment as a police or security officer [HUD Handbook 4350.3, pars. 6-5(C)(5)]. Also, the police or security officer must pass the same screening process as other applicants to be admitted to the site [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(4)]. An officer who doesn’t pass a financial or criminal background check, for example, isn’t eligible to live in an assisted unit.
How many units can you use for officers? HUD limits the number of units you can rent to over-income officers at your site. You can rent only 1 percent of the site’s units to over-income officers [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(6)]. For example, if your site has 100 units, HUD wouldn’t permit you to house more than one police or security officer at your site. Sites containing fewer than 100 units can also house only one officer.
HUD grants exceptions to this limit if there are extenuating circumstances. For example, HUD could permit a 100-unit site to rent to additional officer households if needed to address more serious criminal activity at the site [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(6)].
What rent to charge? HUD lets owners decide the rent to charge over-income police and security officers for an assisted unit, as long as it’s not less than what the officer would pay as an eligible Section 8 tenant [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-27(B)]. For example, you can’t charge an officer no rent. To determine an appropriate rent, HUD suggests that you consider the following:
- The officer’s income (for example, you may want to charge more rent to an officer with a high income);
- The site’s location (for example, you may want to charge more rent to an officer if your site is in a good location); and
- Rents for comparable unassisted units in the area where your site is located (the rent you charge should be in line with the rents of comparable unassisted units).
Note that you’ll need to state the rent you decide to charge in the plan you submit to HUD, and HUD must approve the entire plan, including the rent you propose to charge [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(g)].
Offering other incentives. In addition to offering an attractive rent, you may wish to compensate an officer for performing some policing duties at your site. For example, you may make an agreement with the officer to patrol your site for one hour each week for a set fee when he’s off duty. HUD permits this type of arrangement but requires that it be described in the plan you submit [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(g)].
Include Nine Items in Written Plan
To get HUD’s permission to house over-income police or security officers at your site, you must submit a written plan to your local HUD field office or contract administrator. HUD must notify you within 30 days after you submit your plan whether it has granted or denied your request [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(6)].
Your plan, like the one in our Model Letter, should include the following nine items:
1. Purpose of request. State your request to house over-income officers at your site. Make sure to include the number of units in your site and the number of officers you seek to house. This information is necessary so HUD can make sure you’re not renting more than the allowable number of units to police officers [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(b)].
2. Conditions warranting police presence. Describe both the social and physical condition of the site and its surrounding area, as well as the benefits a police or security officer would bring to the site [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(a)].
Try to show that your site will benefit from the presence of the officer by deterring crime at your site and helping to create a more pleasant and secure environment for your residents.
3. Assessment of criminal activities at the site. Provide a detailed assessment of the criminal activities at or near your site and explain how the safety of tenants and security of the site is affected [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(c)]. You may want to attach a copy of the local police report detailing the crime in the neighborhood surrounding your site.
4. Officer’s qualifications. HUD requires that you indicate the qualifications of the police or security officer you seek to house as well as how long you anticipate the officer will reside at your site [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(d)]. You should include any information the police department or security company is permitted to provide to you about the officer’s qualifications—such as the number of years the officer has been employed by the department or company, comments on the officer’s skill and abilities in fighting crime and relating well to residents, and any other information that seems to indicate that the officer is a good match for your site.
5. Background check. Describe how you have checked or propose to check the background and qualifications of the police or security officer you intend to house at your site [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(e)]. Such screening could include the information the officer’s employer is permitted to provide about any awards or commendations he has received and/or any relevant disciplinary history.
Remember also that the officer must go through the same screening process as other residents at your site. You should state in your plan to HUD that the officer has passed the background check that you apply to all residents at your site.
6. Conflicts of interest. Disclose any family relationship the officer has with the owner or principals of the site or any other persons with an interest in the site. This is to avoid the appearance of bias or special treatment toward a family member [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(f)].
7. Proposed lease arrangement. State the rent you propose to charge the officer, the current contract rent for the unit (that is, the amount that the last resident paid for the unit, plus the housing assistance payments the site got from HUD), the owner’s annual maintenance cost for the unit, and the amount of any other compensation you intend to provide to the police or security officer [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(g)].
8. Contact information. Invite HUD staff to call you with questions or to discuss your request. This way, if HUD has any concerns about your request, someone can call you direct to resolve the issue. Very likely, you can work out any problems that HUD may raise and eliminate the need for further rounds of written correspondence, which could cause unwanted delay.
9. Signature. The owner or authorized agent must sign the plan [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-8(D)(3)(h)].
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Get HUD's Consent to House Police or Security Officer|