OCCUPANCY POLICY / política de ocupación

SECTION I: FAIR HOUSING

The Caldwell Housing Authority is a conduit for federally subsidized housing financed by the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and adheres to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disability Act.  Nothing in this policy is meant to amend, nullify or supersede applicable federal, state, or local laws.  In accordance with federal law, the Caldwell Housing Authority is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, sex and familial status.  The Caldwell Housing Authority further embraces the diversity of our community and does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  To file a complaint of discrimination against the Caldwell Housing Authority write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call 1-800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD). 

SECTION II: APPLICATIONS

A: Prospective Applicants.  The Caldwell Housing Authority offers prospective applicants many different methods for starting the application process. 

  1. Pre-Application. Over the last several years the housing authority has attempted to streamline the application process in an effort to get prospective tenants into an apartment as soon as possible.  We believe we can start the process of qualifying persons for occupancy based on an abbreviated “Pre-Application” that collects basic information. Following the “Pre-Application” process, the prospective tenant will be notified and asked to complete a “Full Application” prior to tenancy.  The Pre-Application is a little more than two (2) pages, while the Full Application is several pages. There is specific information in the Full Application that is not requested on the Pre-Application that will be necessary for occupancy and the assignment of rental assistance (if qualified).  
  2. On-line Pre-Application. Available on line at chaidaho.org is an electronic version of the Pre-Application.  Prospective applicants can complete an on-line Pre-Application in a couple minutes and send it electronically to the housing authority.  The Pre-Application goes directly to up to three (3) different staff of the housing authority, including the person who processes applications. This Pre-Application process is free of charge to the prospective applicant.
  3. Print a Pre-Application form. Prospective tenants can down-load and print a Pre-Application from the same location on the website; fill in the required fields by hand; and deliver it to the housing authority by hand, mail, or via facsimile (fax machine) to (208) 455-2816.  This Pre-Application process is free of charge to the prospective applicant.
  4. Walk-in Application. Prospective tenants may walk into the office and request either a Pre-Application, or an official full application.  Pre-Applications are free of charge to prospective tenants.  There is a $10.00 full application fee (as required by USDA, Rural Development) for all prospective tenants over the age of 18 wishing to complete the application process all at one time.    
  5. Mail-out Application. Prospective tenants may request an application by phone.  CHA will dispatch a Pre-Application to the location of their choice.  Once completed, the prospective applicants may either mail it or hand deliver it to the office of the Caldwell Housing Authority at 22730 Farmway Road, Caldwell, Idaho 83607; or send it by facsimile (fax machine) to (208) 455-2816.  This process is free of charge to the prospective applicant.
  6. Full Applications. After the Pre-Application form has been received by CHA staff and the initial screening has been completed, the prospective tenant will be notified by mail or telephone of pre-approval and provide additional instructions on completing the Full Application. There is a $10.00 full application fee (as required by USDA, Rural Development) for all prospective tenants over the age of 18 wishing to apply to live in properties managed by the Caldwell Housing Authority.

B:  Completed Full Application.  The Caldwell Housing Authority only accepts and processes COMPLETED Full Applications. 

  1. Pre-Application. As stated previously, the Pre-Application is an abbreviated application process that allows the housing authority to start the process of certifying an applicant for tenancy.  This Pre-Application process is free of charge to the prospective applicant.  A Pre-Application is NOT a completed application although abbreviated (shortened), the prospective applicant who completes a Pre-Application must provide: 1) full name, 2) current address, 3) current telephone / cell phone number, 4) household composition, 5) approximate household income, 6) certification that housing at CHA will be the primary residence, 7) authorization for CHA to do background screening, 8) authorization for CHA to conduct financial background check, and 9) authorization for CHA to contact your current or previous landlord for a reference.  If any of the aforementioned eight (8) items are missing, the housing authority will consider the application incomplete and will be administratively withdrawn.  NOTE:  There is no place on the Pre-Application for the applicant to record their social security number (SSN).  That is by design.  Once a Pre-Application is received, CHA staff will contact the applicant by phone to: 1) verify the applicant filled out the application, and 2) to get the applicant’s SSN to complete background screening.
  2. Full Application. There is a $10.00 full application fee (as required by USDA, Rural Development) for all prospective tenants over the age of 18 wishing to apply to live in properties managed by the Caldwell Housing Authority.  In addition to the information provided in the Pre-Application, the following information must be provided on the Full Application: 1) household income information, including all information from sources that would be counted in calculating annual income, adjusted income, and net assets; and consent to release wage matching data to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and the borrower 2) number of household members, including members who would live in the dwelling unit, even those who would live there on a part-time basis, and their birthdates 3) indication of a need for a handicap accessible unit and / or handicap or disability adjustments to income 4) Social Security Card (to be copied) for all members of the household 5) valid photo identification (to be copied) for all household members 18 years of age or older 6) adjustments to income for which the household may qualify, which will be verified; 7) race, ethnicity, and gender designation 8) authorizations and disclosure notice 9) signature and date.  If any of the aforementioned nine (9) items are missing, the housing authority will consider the application incomplete and will be administratively withdrawn.

C:  Applicant Notification.

  1. Pre-Application Follow-up. The Pre-Application is NOT a completed application. Once a Pre-Application has been received, CHA staff will contact the prospective tenant by telephone within two (2) business days and obtain social security number(s) necessary to screen the prospective tenants.  Staff will attempt to contact the prospective tenant twice, in consecutive days.  If the prospective tenant cannot be reached or does not return a telephone call to CHA within three (3) business days, the Pre-Application will be administratively withdrawn.    
  2. Full Application Follow-up.   It is necessary that prospective tenants follow-up with CHA staff as soon as possible when additional information is requested for occupancy.  It is extremely difficult to provide quality service when prospective applicants complete an application, but don’t follow-up with the housing authority for several weeks.  Applicants must follow the approved timeline in section IIC(4) below.    
  3. Withdrawn Applications. Pre-Applications and Full Applications that are not completed within the time specified below, will be administratively withdrawn. 
  4. Simplified timelines for prospective tenant response / follow-through.

Prospective tenants must be timely in their response to housing authority staff during the application process.  It is an industry standard to allow applicants two (2) weeks to complete the entire application process.  The Caldwell Housing authority has asked, and received federal approval for the following three (3) week application timeline:

  • Three (3)working days to respond to pre-application telephone call from CHA staff
  • Three (3) working days to complete the Full Application and pay the $10.00 fee
  • Five (5) working days to provide income and asset verification
  • Three (3) working days (from the notice that an apartment is available) to pay first month’s rent and security deposit and sign the lease
  • Two (2) working days from payment of rent and security deposit to start occupying the rental unit, unless other arrangements are made

With the exception of the two (2) day move-in requirement, if any of the aforementioned timelines are not met, the application will be administratively withdrawn. 

SECTION III: QUALIFICATIONS

  1. General Information. Farmway Village, owned and operated by the Caldwell Housing Authority, is a Section 514 Off-Farm Labor Housing Project initially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.  That means the housing is specifically intended for domestic farm laborers and persons legally admitted into the United State to work in Agriculture.  However, both farm laborers and non-farm laborers are encouraged to apply for housing.  Non-farm labor applicants may be housed when there are no eligible farm laborers on the waiting list. 
  2. Eligible Farm Labor Applicants. According to regulations (cited below), a farm laborer is someone who receives a substantial portion of their income from primary production of agricultural or aquacultural commodities or the handling of agricultural or aquacultural commodities in the unprocessed stage, or the processing of agricultural or aquacultural commodities , without respect to the place of employment.  As an example, a truck driver transporting potatoes from the field to the processing plant would be considered a farm laborer.  A person driving French fries from the processing plant to fast-food restaurants would not be considered a farm laborer.  Farm labor jobs includes, but are not limited to:
  • Field workers
  • Orchard workers
  • Dairy farm workers
  • Vineyard workers
  • Fish hatchery workers
  • Commodity handlers
  • Commodity sorters
  • Commodity processing plant workers
  • Commodity delivery drivers
  1. Satisfactory Rental History. The Caldwell Housing Authority is required to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing.  Housing authority staff works hard to that end.  We believe the best way to meet these standards it to screen applicants and check past rental references.  All applicant must:
  • Provide two (2) rental references from the most recent places of occupancy
  • Have left the two (2) previous places of residency in good standing
  • Give the housing authority written permission to contact previous landlords

Applicants who cannot provide the required rental references will have their application administratively withdrawn.   If the applicant is a first-time renter he/she may request a special consideration.   

  1. Financial Resources. Although rent is adjusted according to income, applicants must have a monthly minimum income of $400.00.  Applicants without an income or who cannot certify that they receive $400.00 in monthly income will have their application administratively withdrawn. 
  2. Prior Rental History with CHA. Often individuals and families re-apply to live at Farmway Village after moving out.  Applicants who were previous tenants of the housing authority will be required to complete a full application.  The housing authority may use its knowledge of previous tenancy to either approve or deny an application.  Applicant who lived at Farmway Village previously and owe for rent, repair costs, or legal fees must pay those previous charges before staff will consider or review the application. 

SECTION IV: WAITING LIST

  1. Waiting List Priority. Apartments at Farmway Village are assigned to individuals and households based on a priority preference established by applicable regulations (cited below).  Generally speaking, domestic farm laborers have 1st Priority, persons legally admitted into the United States to work in Agriculture have 2nd Priority, retired or disabled farm laborers have 3rd Priority, and all other non-farm labors have 4th Priority.  More specifically, the housing priority is as follows:
  • 1stDomestic Farm Labors—Very Low Income
  • 2nd Domestic Farm Labor—Low Income
  • 3rd Domestic Farm Labor—Moderate Income
  • 4th Persons legally admitted into the United States to work in agriculture (H2A)
  • 5th Local Domestic Retired or Disabled Domestic Farm Laborers—Very Low Income
  • 6th Local Domestic Retired or Disabled Domestic Farm Laborers—Low Income
  • 7th Local Domestic Retired or Disabled Domestic Farm Laborers—Moderate Income
  • 8th Non-Local Domestic Retired or Disabled Domestic Farm Laborers—Very Low Income
  • 9th Non-Local Domestic Retired or Disabled Domestic Farm Laborers – Low Income
  • 10th Non-Local Domestic Retired or Disabled Domestic Farm Laborers – Moderate Income
  • 11th Non-Farm Labor—Very Low Income
  • 12th Non-Farm Labor—Low Income
  • 13th Non-Farm Labor—Moderate Income Households
  • 14th – Over Income Applicants – Farm Labor Households
  • 15th Over Income Applicants – Non-Farm Labor Households

* According the HUD’s Annual Income and Rent Guidelines

Priorities #1 through #10 above meet the strict definition of an eligible tenants under the regulations. Priorities #11 through #15 are allowed to live at Farmway Village only when other eligible applicants are not available.  Applicants with a higher priority will go to the top of the waiting list.  Higher priority applicants will always be offered housing when available ahead of lower priority applicants.  Lower priority applicants cannot be bumped down the waiting list for a higher priority applicant once the apartment has been offered to the lower priority applicant.  IMPORTANT: If housed, non-farm laborers will be given a month-to-month lease agreement and may be asked to vacate the apartment for an eligible farm laborer in accordance with the regulations. 

  1. Priority assignment of Housing. Applicants with a higher priority will go to the top of the waiting list.  Higher priority applicants will always be offered housing, when available, ahead of lower priority applicants.  Lower priority applicants cannot be bumped down the waiting list for a higher priority applicant once the apartment has been offered to the lower priority applicant.  In accordance with Section IIC(3) above, an applicant who does not accept the apartment by paying first month’s rent and security deposit and sign the lease agreement within three (3) days of offer forfeits their apartment to the next person on the waiting list and will have their application administratively withdrawn from the process.

SECTION V:  DISQUALIFICATION

  1. Criminal Convictions. As stated previously, the housing authority is required to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing.  Criminal backgrounds are conducted on all applicants during the pre-application process.  Applicants or co-applicants with criminal backgrounds are disqualified from housing as follows:
  • Court Ordered Evictions—within three (3) years from the date of application. Court ordered evictions include “for cause” and “unlawful detainer” evictions.
  • Controlled Substance Conviction—within three (3) years from the date of application. Controlled substance charges include the use, sale, possession, concealment, distribution, or manufacturing of a controlled substance as defined by Idaho law.
  • Misdemeanors Conviction for “Persons Crime”—within three (3) years from the date of application. “Persons crimes” include, but not limited to, domestic violence or battery.
  • Misdemeanors Conviction for “Property Crime”—within two (2) years from the date of application. “Property crimes” include, but not limited to, theft or burglary.
  • Felony “Non-Violent” Conviction—within seven (7) years from the date of application.
  • Violent “Persons Crime”—within ten (10) years from the date of application. This includes any felony conviction for harming or battering another person. 
  • Sex Offenders—lifetime disqualification.
  1. Administrative Disqualification. In addition to the aforementioned disqualifications or criminal reasons, the housing authority disqualifies applicants and co-applicants that:
  • Provide misleading or falsified identification,
  • Provide misleading or incomplete household income documentation,
  • Provide misleading information about co-applicants and unit occupants,
  • Have poor rental histories including, but not limited to, property damage or conflicts with neighbors.
  1. Denial Appeals. Applicants who are denied occupancy will be delivered a written denial letter either personally or by registered mail (providing the applicant has a current address) that will provide the reason for denial.    Denied applicant may grieve the denial by making a written appeal within 10 days of denial and provide convincing evidence why the denial should be overturned.  Attached to the written appeal, the applicant should include all of the following (when applicable):
  • Letters of judgment satisfaction,
  • Letters of compliance from probation and parole,
  • A current credit report showing CHA’s records are inadequate,
  • Documentation of enrollment or participation in substance abuse treatment. Applicant may be entitled waiver under Fair Housing requirement,
  • Letters from previous landlord indicating past due rent and repair costs have been satisfied; and
  • Other written and relevant documentation.

All grievances, including denial of tenancy, will be in accordance 7 CFR 3560.160. 

SECTION VI:  PRE-MOVE-IN PROCEDURES

  1. Income Recertification (if necessary). It is likely that several weeks will have gone by between the date the application was completed and the date an apartment is available.  Recertification of income is required when more than ninety (90) days has lapsed since application submittal.  
  2. Net Tenant Contribution (NTC) Calculation. Prior to executing the lease agreement, the “net tenant contribution” or rent calculation will be completed and all applicants will know prior to entering into the lease agreement their monthly rent at initial income certification.
  3. First Month’s Rent Proration. All applicants are required to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit as explained below.  The first month’s rent is prorated depending on the time of the month of occupancy.  Proration is calculated by dividing the “Note Rate Rent (the rent amount approved by Rural Development)” by the number of days in the month, them multiplying that amount by the remaining day in the month.  For example: $600 a month rent ÷ 30 (the number of days in June) = $20/day prorated rent.  An applicant moving in on June 22nd would be in the apartment for 9 days.  Nine (9) x $20/day proration = $180 initial first month’s rent.  Additional rental assistance (if any) may be calculated into the prorated first month’s rent. 
  4. Security Deposits. Applicants are required to pay a one-time security deposit equal to the “Note Rate Rent” and the first (1st) month’s rent prior to occupancy. 
  5. Security Deposit Payment Arrangements. Upon request, applicants may request payment arrangements for security deposits in accordance with 7 CFR 3560.160.  Applicant requesting a security deposit payment plan must sign a lease addendum and have paid the full security deposit with ninety (90) days of occupying the unit.   
  6. Housing Assignment. The Caldwell Housing Authority will use the following guideline to place families in appropriate sized units.  This policy is intended to comply with Fair Housing laws, allowing the property owner to determine occupancy standards reasonable to family composition.  Infants and unborn children may be excluded from the family composition at the applicant’s request.  Housing will be assigned as follows:

SECTION VII:  REASONABLE ACCOMODATION REQUEST

It is the policy of the Caldwell Housing Authority to provide reasonable accommodations, as prescribed by law, to persons requiring reasonable accommodations in order to fully enjoy their tenancy at Farmway Village.  It will be the policy and practice of the housing authority to assist both tenants and applicants complete the necessary requirements to request reasonable accommodations under the law.  Notwithstanding the numerous pages of guidance offered by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the staff of the Caldwell Housing Authority will:

  • Assist tenants and applicants complete a request for reasonable accommodation when necessary and requested
  • Accept the tenant or applicant’s verifiable third-party (3rd-party) documentation providing it meets the minimum requirements under the law
  • Not require third- party (3rd-party) verification in cases where the disability is apparent
  • Not require tenants or applicant to execute a HIPPA release
  • Not contact the third-party (3rd-party) health care provider to enquire about the nature of the disability

SECTION VIII: SERVICE / ASSISTIVE / COMPANION ANIMALS

The Caldwell Housing Authority (CHA) recognizes the importance of service, assistive, and companion animals to persons with disabilities.  This policy is intended to ensure tenants or applicants with a disability-related need for a service, assistive, or companion animal, are afforded the opportunity to make a request for such as provided by the law.  CHA is committed to allowing tenants or applicants with disabilities the opportunity to live in housing with the aid of service, assistive, or companion animals according to the following policy.  Additionally, CHA is required by law to maintain the housing project in a decent, safe, and sanitary manner.  In an effort to balance the need for decent, safe and sanitary housing with rights of tenants and applicants to have medically-necessary animals, the following policy will take effect February 1, 2017 and amends the previous policy of April 1, 2010. 

Policy

Tenants or applicants needing a medically-necessary service, assistive, or companion animal (hereinafter referred to as the ‘animal’) must:

  • Make a written Reasonable Accommodation Request in accordance with the previous section
  • Return all necessary certifications to CHA within 30 days of making a written Reasonable Accommodation request and prior to allowing the animal in the apartment
  • Bring the animal to the office to be photographed so CHA can identify the animal and contact the owner in the event your animal is at large
  • Have collar and current identification tags on the animal
  • Have all licenses and vaccinations according to applicable state, county, and local laws
  • Employ methods to have animal attended and under direct control by keeping the animal on a leash at all times when outside the apartment
  • Employ methods (including, but not limited to, restraints, muzzles, choker chains, etc.) that prevent the animal from physically harming other tenants, guests, or employees of the housing authority
  • Pick up all animal feces immediately as it occurs anywhere on housing authority property and properly dispose of it in a sanitary manner. It is not sanitary or acceptable to leave cans/bags/or other receptacles of animal feces on patios or other areas outside the apartment
  • Prevent the animal from interfering with other tenant’s rights to peacefully enjoy their premises; specifically free from barking nuisances and stray dogs
  • Feed and watered animal indoors. Leaving food and water bowls outside encourages and attracts stray animals and varmints, neither of which are conducive to a sanitary and safe environment
  • Not let the animal run free off-leash or leave the animal unattended in vehicles parked in the CHA parking lots
  • Assist CHA (when possible) with minimizing health and safety risks associated with stray animals by calling animal control when noticing unleashed or stray animals on CHA property
  • Prevent the animal damaging the apartment, property and premises of the Housing Authority including other tenant’s property.

Policy Clarification

At NO time during the Reasonable Accommodation Request does the housing authority, its employees, officers, or agents:

  • Ask or inquire about the nature of tenant or applicant’s disability
  • Contact the tenant or applicant’s medical provider
  • Accept or keep any records voluntarily provided by a tenant or applicant about their disability
  • Contact 3rd parties for information about tenant or applicant disabilities

Reference:

  • 7 CFR 3560. 11
  • 7 CFR 3560. 152
  • 7 CFR 3560. 158
  • 7 CFR 3560. 159
  • 7 CFR 3560. 576
  • 7 CFR 3560. 577
  • 2018 Omnibus Budget Act
  • July 5, 2019 USDA Un-numbered Letter