Building Relationships between HUD Multifamily Property Owners and Continuums of Care

“After finishing our Rental Assistance Demonstration conversion, it was a high priority for us to be part of the solution to homelessness in Maricopa County. The HUD Multifamily homeless preference gave us a way to do it. We’ve been pleased to partner with the Maricopa-Phoenix Continuum of Care for referrals and services.”  -Gerald Minott, Housing Authority of Maricopa County

In communities across the country, there is an existing, but infrequently tapped, source of housing that can provide a boost to efforts to end homelessness: HUD Multifamily Housing properties. HUD Multifamily Housing developments are privately owned and operated, using HUD-funded, project-based subsidies to make the rent affordable for low-income and extremely low-income tenants.

By partnering successfully with the owners and operators of these properties, local Continuums of Care (CoCs) can increase the number of housing units available to the homeless populations they serve. Much like Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), HUD Multifamily Housing properties may adopt a “homeless preference” that allows households experiencing homelessness to move more quickly to the top of a given property’s wait list. Unlike PHAs, however, HUD Multifamily Housing properties are not controlled by a single agency that can adopt a preference; rather, each HUD Multifamily Housing property has control over its own wait-list preferences and policies, as long as they comply with the HUD Multifamily Housing regulations.  

To adopt a homeless preference, an owner must make changes to the property’s Tenant Selection Plan and receive approval from HUD. Owners and operators are more likely to adopt the homeless preference if they are able to partner with the local CoC for referrals and services. A close partnership between the CoC and the HUD Multifamily Housing property also often leads to the integration of these housing resources into the CoC’s coordinated entry and referral system.

To find HUD Multifamily Housing properties in your area, use the interactive map, click on “Find Affordable Housing Opportunities Near Me” and enter your community in the search box at the top. The map will then include orange icons that indicate the HUD Multifamily Housing properties, including the target subpopulations (e.g., housing for seniors, housing for households with disabilities), contact information, and unit types. 

For CoCs interested in pursuing these strategies, here are some tips:

  • Partner with property owners and operators. Invite owners and managers to join with you in the goal of ending homelessness. To begin outreach efforts, CoCs may be able to leverage existing relationships with PHAs with a homeless preference, landlords that participate with rapid re-housing or supportive housing programs, or affordable apartment professional organizations. Be prepared to answer owners’ questions about referrals and services. Once a partnership is established, set up periodic check-ins to celebrate successes and address any challenges.

  • Connect households with follow-up services. Know what services the CoC and community-based programs can provide after move-in. Explain clearly to the property owner or manager what services will be offered, their duration, and the service provider’s point of contact. Once the homeless preference has been adopted at a property, make sure to respond to tenancy concerns in a timely manner. Many CoCs that have partnered with HUD Multifamily properties have used rapid re-housing or Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programs for services. Because the properties are subsidized, the CoC or provider agency is typically only covering the cost of the services with rapid re-housing, SSVF, or other programs. In some cases, no homelessness services system-specific services are needed; rather, the households can be connected with mainstream community supports. Additional sources of local, state or federal funding may be available to provide services as well.

  • Ensure a rapid referral process. Use coordinated entry for referrals to ensure that properties receive complete, eligible, and timely applications for vacancies; this way, the owner won’t suffer financial losses due to vacancies. CoCs may need to adapt their coordinated entry policies and procedures to incorporate this source of privately-owned housing, ensuring that referrals provided to the HUD Multifamily Housing property are eligible for that housing resource and connected to services.

Multi-family property owners participate in a learning session.
Photo Credit: NYC Department of Veteran's Services  

In just the last year, with the help of the HUD Multifamily technical assistance program, ten new owners and operators have stepped up to adopt the preference at 41 properties. These owners and operators partnered with CoCs and service providers to help end homelessness. Thank you to these HUD Multifamily Housing owners and operators!

  • Affiliate Developers (Montana)
  • Better Quality Management (Connecticut)
  • Guardian Angels (Minnesota)
  • Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board (Virginia)
  • Housing Authority of Maricopa County (Arizona)
  • KMG Prestige (Michigan)
  • Metropolitan Realty Group (New York)
  • Mountain Terrace/Ellis and Ellis (West Virginia)
  • St. Clare Management, Inc. (Wisconsin)
  • Vermont State Housing Authority (Vermont)

Find more resources for CoCs and HUD Multifamily Housing property owners and operators on how to partner, including a toolkit for implementing the homeless preference in your community.

You may also contact HUD with questions and for technical assistance on the Multifamily Housing Homeless Preference at

Naomi served as the lead consultant for HUD on national technical assistance to promote and educate owners and COCs on the HUD Multifamily homeless preference.  Prior to her work with TAC, Naomi was instrumental in implementing a multi-family homeless preference in Massachusetts through the New Lease program.

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