Statement of Purpose
Project Freedom at Trent Center has prepared this Tenant Selection Plan which has been approved by Project Freedom at Trent Center Urban Renewal, LP, and BTC Management and is in accordance with the IRS and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) regulations. This plan establishes a set of policies, which are consistently applied to all residents and applicants, regarding marketing, tenant selection, screening criteria, eligibility criteria, appeals process and requirements for continued occupancy.
Statement of Fair Housing
It is the policy of Project Freedom at Trent Center and BTC Management to comply with all applicable laws relating to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (as amended by the Community Development Act of 1974 and the Fair Housing Act Amendment of 1988), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and any applicable state laws or local ordinances and any legislation protecting the individual rights of residents, applicants or staff that may subsequently be enacted.
Project Freedom at Trent Center and BTC Management shall not discriminate because of race, national origin, gender, religion, familial status, disability or handicap, or sexual orientation in leasing, renting or other disposition of housing.
Project Freedom at Trent Center is a five (5) story building with 52 total apartments. Project Freedom at Trent Center was financed with tax credits administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA). The building consists of 43 one-bedroom units, ranging in size from 635 square feet to 851 square feet, and 9 two-bedroom units, ranging in size from 922 square feet to 1,138 square feet. There are two, two-bedroom units and ten one-bedroom units on floors two through five. On the first floor, there is a two-bedroom unit, three one-bedroom units, a community room, common-area space and management offices.
Each apartment is furnished with an electric range, refrigerator, smoke detector, air conditioning and heat. The 5th floor of the building is the designated smoking floor. Smoking is not allowed in any apartment on the 1st through 4th floors.
Occupancy guidelines have been established as no more than three (3) people in a one-bedroom apartment and no more than five (5) people in a two-bedroom apartment. Exceptions to the occupancy standards may be made in case of reasonable accommodations for a person with a disability or in an emergency situation, at the discretion of the Property Manager and/or the Board of Directors.
Project Freedom at Trent Center Urban Renewal, LP will commence diligent marketing activities within the current approved Affirmative Marketing Plan (AFHM), Equal Housing Opportunity and Federal Fair Housing not later than 90 days prior to the anticipated date of availability for occupancy of the first unit in the property.
Any further marketing necessary to maintain a sufficient waiting list of eligible applicants will be in accordance with the AFHM and the IRS-approved regulations as described above.
The Owners will comply with all regulations in marketing of the units before any applications are accepted and processed.
When the marketing of units generates an application pool such that the waiting list period is more than one year, the Owner may suspend the intake of names of preliminary applications by means of public notice to that effect, posted in the office of Project Freedom at Trent Center. The determination as to one year’s pool of applicant shall be the average of the past five years’ move-outs plus an additional one hundred names. After initial rent-up, 110% of the number of units in the development shall be taken before the waiting list is closed.
When the application pool diminishes to a point where the waiting list period is less than one year, the Owner will re-market pursuant to paragraph above.
A permanent record, maintained in an applicant log in a format approved by the Owner, will record all applicants who have applied to the project.
The Owner shall be responsible for determining eligibility of applicants in accordance with IRS Section 42, HUD Handbook 4350.3, NJHMFA guidelines and any other guidelines that the Owner may be obligated to follow.
Applicants may request an application by mail, in person at the property manager’s office, by email, by fax or through the website with the online application. The property manager’s office hours are generally 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Applicants may turn in the application in person, by email, fax or by mail. The property manager’s office is handicap accessible on the first floor. Applicants must submit a fully completed Pre-Qualifying Application. There is no charge to receive or submit an application.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide Project Freedom at Trent Center with accurate and verifiable information. Information that is NOT verifiable or is inaccurate will result in immediate rejection of the application. All members of the applicants’ household who are over the age of eighteen (18) are required to also sign the application. By signing the application, applicants are giving the property manager consent to conduct credit, criminal and landlord background checks.
Applications will be available in formats accessible for individuals with vision impairments and will be written clearly and simple to enable applicants with cognitive disabilities to understand as much as possible. Personnel will be available to read the application to non-readers and arrangements will be made for individuals who do not speak English. No one will be refused the right to apply for housing at Project Freedom at Trent Center.
Upon completion of the entire application, in which all questions are answered or marked NA if not applicable, the application is immediately date/time stamped.
The application is then entered into the computer software, according to date/time. The application is placed on the appropriate one- or two-bedroom waiting list. The application, selection and admission process generally takes a period of several weeks to complete. Project Freedom at Trent Center Apartments does not have the capability to provide emergency housing, except in the event of a federally declared disaster situation.
No applications will be accepted if the waiting list is closed.
An applicant placed on the waiting list is not guaranteed a lease offer. The applicant can be subsequently rejected for failing one or more of the tenants screening criteria and/or the eligibility criteria. The applications are placed on the waiting list in chronological order according to the time/date stamp of the completed application.
Project Freedom at Trent Center has two waiting lists, one for one-bedroom apartments and the other for two-bedroom apartments with the highest priority given to those applicants who use a mobility device. Project Freedom at Trent Center is financed with tax credits administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and NJHMFA and does not have building-based vouchers for the apartments. To be eligible for placement on the waiting list, an applicant without rental assistance must have a minimum annual income of $22,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and $24,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. If an applicant does not meet the guideline for minimum income, the applicant must have rental assistance from an outside agency or have a responsible adult who will pay the monthly rent. A wait list preference is given to those applicants or household members who use a mobility device.
If the waiting list is closed, interested persons may place their names and addresses onto an inquiry list. This list will notify persons of the status of the waiting list only. Should the waiting list be opened through public notice, these persons with their names on the inquiry list will be notified indicating the procedures to be followed in order to obtain a place on the property’s waiting list.
Applications will be screened according to the eligibility criteria outlined below. If accepted for occupancy, applicants will be assigned to an appropriately sized apartment.
If the applicant cannot be reached at the address and/or phone number provided in the application, the application will be rejected and notice mailed to the last known address.
Applicant’s total annual income cannot exceed the maximum limit for applicants to Project Freedom at Trent Center. These amounts are posted in the property manager’s office and are available through New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency.
Removing Names from Waiting List
An applicant’s name can be removed from the waiting list if:
- The applicant no longer meets the eligibility requirements for the project
- The applicant twice fails to respond to a written or verbal notice of apartment availability
- The applicant rejects two (2) offers of an apartment
- Mail sent to the applicant’s address is returned as undeliverable
If an applicant is removed from the waiting list and the property manager subsequently determines that an error was made in removing the applicant, the applicant must be reinstated at the original place on the waiting list.
Income Limits for the Property are established and adjusted annually. The household’s annual income may not exceed the applicable income limit for this property or for the household size.
The LIHTC Income Limits are based on sixty (60%) percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published updated income limits. In addition, NJ Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) restrictions require that four of the apartments be reserved for tenants earning less than fifty (50%) percent of the HUD updated income limits. The maximum annual income limits for Project Freedom at Trent Center Urban Renewal, LP applicants are as follows as of January 1, 2014:
|Household Size||Maximum Income|
|One (1) person||$41,460|
|Two (2) persons||$47,340|
|Three (3) persons||$53,280|
|Four (4) persons||$59,160|
The applicant must agree to pay the established monthly rental amount for each apartment, less an allowance for utility costs established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The unit must be the household’s only residence. Assistance may not be provided to households who will maintain another residence in addition to the assisted unit.
The applicant must disclose the Social Security numbers of all household members. If a household member does not have a Social Security number, the applicant must sign a certification to that fact.
A household comprised only of full-time students is not eligible to reside in Project Freedom at Trent Center unless otherwise exempted under IRS Regulations.
Tenant Screening and Rejection
The tenant screening and rejection criteria apply to all individuals who are expected or proposed to reside in the unit. These requirements describe the criteria by which Project Freedom at Trent Center must determine whether an applicant is eligible to reside at Project Freedom at Trent Center. Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria as established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
- The Project Freedom at Trent Center apartment must be the family’s only residence. Families will not be admitted who will maintain another residence in addition to the Trent Center apartment.
- All applicants must be legally capable of entering into a lease agreement. Clarification of legal status may be requested.
- Applicants must disclose social security numbers for all family members except for tenants age 62 or older as of January 31, 2010 and for individuals who do not contend eligible immigration status. Verification of social security numbers for all household members must be provided before move-in.
- Applicants must provide adequate proof of the social security number disclosed for all household members.
- The applicant must agree to pay the rent and security deposit required by the program under which the applicant will receive assistance. The security deposit is equal to one and one-half month’s rent.
- All information reported by the applicant will be verified, preferably by a third party whenever possible.
- Applicants must have maintained a satisfactory credit history. However, lack of credit history is not sufficient justification to reject and applicant. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to meet financial obligations, including rent and utilities.
- Applicants and household members must not have been convicted of a drug-related crime, a violent crime or other criminal activity that would threaten the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.
- Applicants and household members must not have been convicted of a crime in which lifetime sexual offender registration is required.
- Each applicant must provide verifiable rental history for the last five (5) years. The rental history will be reviewed using the following criteria: evictions or judgments of non-payment of rent, other lease violations, history of disturbances or behavior that interfered with the landlord or the rights of other residents/neighbors, history of poor housekeeping habits, and history of property damage.
- If an applicant fails to meet one of more of the eligibility criteria.
- If the applicant submits false information about themselves or any household member.
- All landlord references will be accomplished by telephone and/or written acknowledgment with a record kept of statements made indicating date, time and person spoken to from the landlord’s office. After oral representation is indicated, a written landlord reference form may be mailed for further written verification. In every case the previous landlord and present landlords may be contacted for the previous five years. More weight will be given to the previous landlord statements.
- A personal interview and/or information that indicates the applicant will be unable to comply with the terms of the lease agreement.
- Refusal to occupy property unit in accordance with NJHMFA or IRS regulations
- A family size that exceeds the occupancy standards;
- An annual household income that exceeds maximum limits;
- A poor credit history, as evidenced by liens, judgments, bankruptcy, collection accounts and/or delinquent account payment history in the past three (3) years;
- Failure to provide signed authorization forms allowing property manager to obtain current criminal background and/or credit checks;
- Failed to respond to a request for documentation or information within five (5) business days.
Trent Center Apartments will reject applicants or household members who, at the time of application, have:
- A history of disruptive behavior;
- A history of poor housekeeping habits that creates an unsafe or unhealthy environment, including but not limited to, an uncontrolled accumulation of trash, clothing or other items or multiple infestations of roaches, rodents or insects;
- A poor rental history, including failure to cooperate with recertification procedures, violations of the lease, violations of house rules, late payments, previous evictions, previous notices to quit or cease;
- A record of arrest and/or conviction of drug use, drug possession, drug manufacture, drug distribution, vandalism, alcohol abuse, possession of firearm or other illegal weapon, violent behavior of any kind, any felony crime, or behavior that interferes with the health, safety and welfare of others;
- Been subject to lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program;
- Reasonable cause to believe a household member’s abuse or pattern of abuse of alcohol interferes with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents;
- Reasonable cause to believe a household member’s illegal use or pattern of illegal use of a drug may interfere with the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents;
- Provided false information;
- Received a poor landlord reference which indicates a history of lease violations such as, but not limited to, repeated judgments, chronic late rental payments, prior evictions, breach of lease, history of public disturbances, damage to property, physical and/or verbal attacks to others, poor housekeeping;
Public records are used to determine if an applicant has a criminal history. Applicants and adult household members may be requested to be fingerprinted and a criminal history record provided. This is done through a private company. Applicants and household members are responsible for paying any fees associated with obtaining a criminal history record. The New Jersey State Police and local police departments no longer offer “letters of good conduct”.
Credit history information is obtained by using an outside contractor designated to provide such information.
A visit by Project Freedom at Trent Center staff to the current home of an applicant is used to determine if an applicant has poor housekeeping habits that create an unsafe or unhealthy environment, including but not limited to, an uncontrolled accumulation of trash, clothing or other items or multiple infestations of roaches, rodents or insects. A visit to the current home of applicants will be completed if the applicant’s current address is within a 10 mile radius of Project Freedom at Trent Center.
An applicant who is rejected shall receive written notification of the rejection of the application and the specific grounds for denial. The applicant will have fourteen (14) days from the date of the notification to respond in writing to request a meeting for a review of the decision.
Applicants will be notified in writing of the specific grounds for rejection of an application and will be given fourteen (14) days from the date of the letter to request a meeting to discuss and review the rejection. In the event an applicant requests a meeting, the property manager will establish a meeting, at a mutually convenient date and time, within seven (7) business days of the request.
An applicant may bring additional data to support their appeal or present a verbal explanation of why they should not be denied occupancy. This allows for the consideration of mitigating factors that rebut the presumption that an applicant will be unable to meet the requirements of tenancy. Factors that can be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to: evidence of rehabilitation or repair of the disqualifying act or behavior, the length of time of the occurrence of the disqualifying act or behavior, or the likelihood of re-occurrence of the disqualifying act or behavior.
A written decision of the appeal will be given to the applicant within five (5) business days of the meeting and/or when all subsequent documentation is received. All decisions are final.
Unit Transfer and Unit Size Standards
The decision to allow unit transfers will be at the sole discretion of management, based upon changes in family composition and/or possible medical condition. The decision will be made based upon verification provided by the residents. The resident must be in good standing throughout the lease term, pay rent on time, abide by all provisions of the lease agreement, not have caused damage to the current unit and have maintained the current unit in a safe, clean and sanitary condition.
Units with one or more bedrooms will be assigned based upon the principle that two members of the same sex regardless of age may share a bedroom.
The security deposit required at Project Freedom at Trent Center is one and one-half month’s rent. In the event of a unit transfer, the security deposit will be transferred to the new unit. If additional monies are due, it shall be the tenant’s responsibility to pay the difference.
Unit Inspections will be performed at the time of move-in and move-out by an adult member of the household and the owner’s representative.
To insure the unit is kept in accordance with the lease agreement, a unit inspection will be completed every other month by the resident and Owners’ representative. In addition to these inspections, Owner shall provide extermination services and ongoing inspections to assure property is being kept clean, safe and free of any damage.
Whenever an applicant inspects an apartment prior to its being occupied, the inspection form will certify that the applicant has examined the property and that the inspection report is correct.
The inspection of the apartment made at the time of move-out will be conducted by the authorized family representative and the Owner’s representative. The documentation will demonstrate all necessary repairs, decorations and clean-up work which is required to bring the apartment back to the original condition as listed above. The outgoing tenant will be notified of the condition of the unit within (30) thirty days of the date possession was returned to the Owner.
Charges for facilities and services other than those listed on the rent schedule will be subject to the prior written approval in accordance with the regulatory agreement.
A reasonable accommodation request can be made by the person with the disability, a family member or someone else acting on the individual’s behalf. Requests for reasonable accommodations can be made orally or in writing. Whenever possible, it is preferred, and assistance will be provided to the individual, if needed, to put the request in writing. The request must make it clear to Project Freedom at Trent Center that a request is being made for an exception, change or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, service or physical structure because of his/her disability.
When a tenant requires an accessible feature, policy modification or other reasonable accommodation to accommodate a disability, Project Freedom at Trent Center will provide the requested accommodation unless doing so would result in a fundamental alternation in the nature of the program or an undue financial and administrative burden. If providing such an accommodation would result in undue financial and administrative burden, Project Freedom at Trent Center will take other action that would not result in an undue burden.
If a resident disagrees with the initial response or suggested alternative to his/her request for a reasonable accommodation to his/her disability, the resident may submit a written grievance to BTC Management Company’s Section 504 Administrator, Board President, c/o 547 Greenwood Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08609.
The written grievance should state the accommodation requested and explain why the accommodation is needed. It should also state any alternative accommodation offered and explain why it would not be satisfactory to the resident.
Upon receipt of the grievance, the Section 504 administrator will review the information relevant to the complaint and will discuss the issues with all parties involved. If necessary, a meeting will be scheduled with all parties to discuss possible resolution.
In any event, a written response will be issued within thirty days of receipt of the grievance, and every effort will be made to resolve the issue as soon as possible and satisfactorily within the guidelines of the Section 504 regulations.
Following the appropriate IRS guidelines, the Owner will examine and verify the income and family composition of all tenants both initially and thereafter annually. The Owner will initiate the certification process in accordance with the HUD Handbook 4350.3 procedures.
The attached lease will be used in leasing the units of this property. The lease term is in conformation with IRS regulations.
Each family will be given a welcome package that will include:
- A copy of the lease
- Community handbook and any applicable lease attachments
- Key signature forms
- Insurance notice regarding personal property
- Truth in renting statement
- Emergency contact information
- Fire/emergency plan
- Building registration statement
When a vacancy occurs, every effort will be made to ensure that is promptly filled. First preference will be given to the current residents who have had a change in family composition followed by the applicants who meet the local resident preference and finally, the applicants as they appear on the waiting list in chronological order.
Eligibility for Continued Occupancy
Residents who meet the following criteria will be eligible for continued occupancy at Project Freedom at Trent Center:
- Are in full compliance with the lease and building policies
- Conform to the occupancy standards stated herein
- Meet their obligation to maintain the apartment in a safe, decent, and sanitary condition
- Re-certify the family income and composition characteristics as required
Tenancy at Project Freedom at Trent Center will be terminated if:
- A determination is made by Project Freedom at Trent Center staff that a household member is illegally using a drug or controlled substance
- A determination is made by Trent Center staff that a pattern of illegal use of a drug by a household member interferes with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents
- Criminal activity by a tenant, any member of a tenant’s household, a guest or other person under the tenant’s control that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents or staff
- A tenant is fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody or confinement after conviction for a crime or an attempt to commit a crime that is a felony under the laws of the place from which the individual flees or is classified as a “high misdemeanor” in New Jersey
- A tenant is violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under federal or state law
- A determination is made by Trent Center staff that a household member’s abuse or pattern of abuse of alcohol threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents
A live-in aide or attendant is a person who lives with an elderly, handicapped or disabled person and is essential to that individual’s care and well being, not obligated for the individual’s support and would not be living in the unit except to provide support services. The live-in aide/attendant may not qualify as a remaining family member should the tenancy end for any reason.
Evictions will be handled in accordance with the rules from the Owner, the IRS, and the Laws of the State of New Jersey. Every opportunity will be given to preserve the resident’s tenancy.
Trent Center Apartments allows ONE common household pet per apartment. The pet must be 25 pounds or less. The tenant must sign a pet lease and pay a refundable pet deposit. The health records of the pet must be turned in to the property manager on an annual basis.
Modification of Tenant Selection Plan
This plan will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it reflects current operating practices, program priorities and HUD/IRS requirements. If changes are made to the Tenant Selection Plan, a notice with the proposed changes will be posted in the mailroom bulletin board. Tenants will be given 30 days to comment before the changes take effect.