Application

Eligibility

The certification program is designed to identify owner-operators of multifamily affordable properties and service organizations working in multifamily affordable properties that provide resident services provision in line with a robust coordination system.

A resident services coordination system refers to all functions tied to the organizational mission to implement resident services in affordable rental housing properties, including corporate and site-based staff, funding, technology systems, services and programs, research and evaluation, organizational knowledge, and the tools necessary to support resident services.

CORES-certified Organizations are required to re-certify every 5 years to maintain their certification to ensure the organization continues to meet CORES requirements, and is maintaining a robust and strategic approach to resident services coordination. This also recognizes that the resident services field is constantly evolving and that an organization's portfolio, business model, infrastructure, and practices will evolve over five years. 

To be eligible for CORES Certification, an organization must fit one of the following models for providing resident services coordination and this system must be scaled at multiple multifamily properties:

[Owner-Operator] Direct Model – Affordable housing owners/organizations that retain direct responsibility for the management, delivery, and implementation of resident services coordination at their own properties. Frontline, property-based resident services staff are employees of the owner/organization.

[Owner-Operator] Hybrid Model – Affordable housing owners/organizations that contract with an unrelated third-party entity (either a property management company or another services organization) to staff the on-site, property-based resident services coordinators/staff, but otherwise retain leadership, management, and support capacity for resident services coordination at their properties.

Third-Party Resident Services Coordination Contractor Model – An owner of affordable housing may contract with an external (third-party) organization to provide all aspects of resident services coordination. This includes the management, delivery, and implementation of Resident Services Coordination at the property level and corporate/regional levels. An organization that falls into this model may provide third-party services for one owner or for multiple owners.

Please note: If interested in seeking certification under both the Direct and Third-Party models, please contact CORES for more information about the Streamlined Third-Party application option. 


Threshold Requirements

Before applying, please review the CORES Certification threshold requirements and watch our introductory CORES 101 training video (required before submitting Pre-Screen). For an organization to qualify for the CORES certification, it must be able to meet these threshold requirements and obtain a minimum application score.

We also recommend watching this training video which reviews the four documents that are required for the CORES application and that we get the most questions on. This provides a more in-depth look at the Community Scan, Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment, Property Services Plan, and Resident Indicators and Analysis Report.

While an organization does not need to offer resident services coordination or have resident services staff at ALL properties within their portfolio, it must be able to demonstrate that the required infrastructure and implementation of a system of resident services coordination has been in place at multiple properties within their portfolio for a minimum of three years.

Application

Please make sure to use Chrome when completing your application. Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox do not support this application well and you may have technical challenges.

Direct & Hybrid Model Applicants: Start Your Application Today!
 

Third Party Model Applicants: start Your Application Today! 

CORES Application Timeline:

CORES Application Process Timeline

Pre-Application and Pre-Screen Survey:
When an organization is ready to begin the CORES application process, the applicant will be required to create an account and complete the pre-screen survey (through the links above) to ensure the organization meets the eligibility requirements for certification. The applicant will receive an email within 3-5 business days of completing the pre-screen survey notifying them if their pre-screen has been approved. The pre-screen approval is valid for up to 6 months.

Complete Application: 
Once the pre-screen is approved, the applicant will receive an invoice by email for the $5,500 CORES application fee. After the fee payment is received, the applicant will receive an email granting full access to complete the CORES application. 

The application is approximately 50 questions – drop down; select all; text boxes; and specified attachments, which must be uploaded. The applicant can save their work within the portal and access it later. At any time, the applicant can download a PDF version of the application answers. We strongly recommend that the organization keep a downloaded, updated record of their application questions for their files.

For an organization to qualify for the certification, it must obtain a minimum score on the application questions. If an organization is unable to answer the threshold questions or provide the required supporting documents, the organization will NOT qualify for CORES certification.

CORES Review and Certification Determination:
Once an application is fully complete (and does not require additional updates for staff scoring and peer review to be completed), it is expected that the review process will take up to six weeks. This projected timeline may be impacted during periods of increased application volume.

All questions are scored on either a 0/1 or 0/1/2 point scale. To obtain full CORES certification, an organization must score points on ALL threshold questions AND get a required minimum score on all other sections (as applicable to its service delivery model) AND score a minimum of 40 points across all the categories using the applicable rubric.

Two CORES reviewers will score the application independently, develop a written analysis of the certification application, and provide a recommendation for either approval or denial to a three-member Peer Review Committee, who will make the final determination.

The members of the CORES Peer Review Committee and the CORES Advisory Committee are made up of representatives from different organizations and agencies including practitioners, funders, intermediaries, trainers, and consultants within the affordable housing and resident services fields.

The Peer Review Committee reviews the application and the CORES reviewers' recommendation and makes a final determination to either approve or deny the application. The applicant will receive an email letter notifying them of the final certification determination.

Applicants will receive a summary analysis of their application once the review process is complete. If the certification is denied and after reviewing their summary analysis, the organization believes that their application has been evaluated incorrectly (and that there was no misinterpretation of the requirements or questions), it can provide the documentation for an appeal. The documentation for appeal should provide detailed evidence on the specific criteria that the organization is contending. This appeal will be reviewed by the full Peer Review Committee.


Application Materials:

 - Download a copy of the DIRECT MODEL Certification Questions (updated 1.20.23) -- (EXCEL PDF or WORD DOC)

 - Download a copy of the HYBRID MODEL Certification Questions (updated 1.20.23) -- (EXCEL PDF or WORD DOC)

 - Download a copy of the THIRD PARTY MODEL Certification Questions (updated 2.14.23) -- (EXCEL PDF or WORD    DOC)

 - Download a copy of the RUBRIC SUMMARY (PDF)

 - Download the CORES Portal Guidance (PDF) for step-by step instructions on how to navigate the CORES application process

CORES Recertification

CORES-Certified Organizations are required to re-certify every 5 years to maintain their certification.

The purpose of Recertification is:
 * To ensure the certified organization continues to meet CORES requirements and is maintaining a robust and strategic approach to resident services coordination.
 * To recognize that the resident services field is constantly evolving and that an organization's portfolio, business model, infrastructure, and practices will evolve over five years.

Threshold Requirements

Before applying for recertification, review the CORES Recertification Eligibility Requirements (which includes ADDITIONAL minimum scoring requirements and an ADDITIONAL threshold requirement) and watch our CORES Recertification training video. For an organization to qualify for the CORES recertification, it must be able to meet these threshold requirements, minimum requirements and obtain a minimum application score. 

Application Process

To get started on the application, please complete the recertification pre-screen survey through the link below. Please make sure to use the same login credentials that you used to complete your initial CORES application. If you are having trouble logging in using these credentials, please contact us at [email protected].  

Please make sure to use Chrome when completing your application. Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox do not support this application well and you may have technical challenges. 

Direct & Hybrid Model recertification: Start Your Application!
Third-Party Model recertification: Start Your Application!
 

Recertification Application Timeline Guidance

Recertification Timeline

Review the Recertification Application Timeline Guidance for further information on submission guidance, deadlines and requirements to maintain CORES certification. If you are already CORES certified, your certification expiration date was included in the original certification email notification and letter that you received from CORES staff. 

Pre-Recertification and Pre-Screen Survey:

Submission Deadline: The recertification pre-screen survey is due 12 weeks prior to your certification expiration date, but can be initiated as early as six months prior to your certification expiration date.

When an organization is ready to begin the CORES recertification application process, the applicant will be required to complete the recertification pre-screen survey (through the links above) to ensure the organization meets the eligibility requirements for recertification. The recertification application will be submitted through the separate recertification portal. The recertification application is connected to the same portal system as initial certification, and applicants should use the same login information as when they first certified. The applicant will receive an email within 3-5 business days of completing the recertification pre-screen survey notifying them if their pre-screen has been approved.

Note: Organizations with Provisional Certification will be required to apply for Full Certification prior to their three-year expiration date. Provisionally certified organizations will be required to complete the initial CORES application, rather than the Recertification application.

All applicants should review their initial application and any feedback they received well in advance of beginning the recertification process. 

Complete Recertification Application: 

Submission Deadline: The complete recertification application is due 6 weeks prior to your certification expiration date. However, we recommend that you submit your application for recertification at least 8 weeks in advance of your certification expiration date in case there is a need for updates to your application.

Once the pre-screen is approved, the applicant will receive an invoice by email for the $5,500 CORES recertification application fee. After the fee payment is received, the applicant will receive an email granting full access to complete the recertification application.

The organization will be asked to answer a similar set of questions as the initial certification, with some questions removed where additional information is not required to recertify. For many questions, applicants will be asked to update their answers from the initial certification to reflect on any changes in their approach, infrastructure, and/or changes in industry standards in the last five years. For additional clarification, there may be some updated wording on several questions that were included in the initial application.

There will be several NEW questions that explore the organization’s evolution to meet some of the changing resident services needs and best practices in the field (i.e., use of virtual services/staffing, DEI training, etc.). There will also be ADDITIONAL MINIMUM SCORING REQUIREMENTS and an ADDITIONAL THRESHOLD REQUIREMENT in addition to the threshold requirements that were required at initial certification. Please review the Recertification Eligibility Requirements for further information on the additional minimum scoring requirements and threshold requirements. 

CORES Review and Certification Determination: 

Once the recertification application is submitted in the portal and deemed complete by CORES staff, it will be reviewed by CORES reviewers within 6 weeks.  

All questions are scored on either a 0/1 or 0/1/2 point scale. To obtain full CORES certification, an organization must meet minimum scoring requirements, meet all threshold requirements, get a required minimum score on all other sections (as applicable to its service delivery model), AND score a minimum of 40 points across all the categories using the applicable rubric.

The recertification application review and approval process remains the same as initial certification. 

Recertification Application Materials:

- Download a copy of the DIRECT MODEL Recertification Questions (updated 3.1.23) -- (EXCEL PDF) or (WORD DOC)

- Download a copy of the HYBRID MODEL Recertification Questions (updated 3.1.23) -- (EXCEL PDF) or (WORD DOC)

- Download a copy of the THIRD PARTY MODEL Recertification Questions (updated 9.21.23) -- (EXCEL PDF) or (WORD DOC)

- CORES Recertification Portal Guidance -- Review slides #17-35 in the Recertification Overview for guidance on navigating the CORES portal

Questions?

CORES staff developed the recertification process with the input of existing CORES certified organizations. If you have questions or feedback on the Recertification process, please contact us at: [email protected] 

Applying for ERS Financing (Certified Organizations Only)

Fannie Mae Healthy Housing Rewards™ Enhanced Resident Services

Affordable housing owner-operators may leverage the CORES Certification to qualify for Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards™ - Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) financing incentives. 

Please note that the above video was recorded in October 2022 and the information discussed in this video regarding the ERS program may have changed. 

ERS Property Certification Proposal Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for ERS financing incentives, an owner-operator or their third-party resident services provider must achieve CORES certification and submit an ERS Property Certification Proposal. The ERS proposal application asks for information about the property, residents, and plans for resident services coordination. Applicants are required to answer several ERS Property Certification Proposal threshold questions (see below). 

ERS Property Certification Proposal Threshold Questions

To qualify for the ERS Property Certification, applicants must be able to answer the following threshold questions about the property in their Proposal:

  • The organization must describe how community spaces, amenities, and the design of the property meets the needs of the expected resident population.
  • The organization must provide neighborhood/ community level data for the property. Applicants will be asked to provide a Community Scan if completed. The Community Scan will be required in the first ERS Annual Report.
  • The organization must provide resident demographics for the property, if available. Applicants will be asked to provide a Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment if completed. The Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment will be required in the first ERS Annual Report.
  • The organization must describe the roles of both the on-site resident services coordinators and corporate/regional resident-services staff that will support on-site staff at this property.  
  • The organization must provide the proposed resident services staffing plan for this property (number of resident services staff supporting this property, projected number of hours of resident services coordination support through onsite/property level resident services staff, regional support, and any virtual supports). The proposed staffing model for this property must meet or exceed the minimum staffing ratio for ERS financed properties of 1 FTE: 150 households (1 FTE is defined as 40 hours per week). Please click here for additional guidance on ERS staffing model requirements.
  • The organization must describe if there are any nearby or co-located programs, services, and/or partners that are being considered part of the core on-site staffing and services model.
  • The organization must complete a budget template (provided by CORES) that shows the anticipated budget for resident services coordination and services for the property. The budget should incorporate the projected Fannie Mae's Healthy Housing Rewards™ ERS annual discount and the additional resources the owner has committed or identified to support an enhanced level of resident services coordination. 

Properties with Third-Party Resident Services Coordination must also answer the following additional threshold questions in their Proposal:

  • The organization must describe the relationship between the Third-Party CORES Certified resident services provider (applicant) and property owner/borrower.
  • The organization must provide a copy of an approved resident services contract between the Third-Party CORES Certified resident services provider (applicant) and the property owner/borrower. This contract should address: (1) SOW/Roles and Responsibilities, (2) Staffing Plan, (3) Use of Space, (4) Goals/Evaluation, (5) Terms and Compensation, (6) Insurance Requirements and Indemnification, and (7) Sharing of Resident Data.
  • The organization must provide a signed letter from the owner/borrower affirming that the owner is partnering with the CORES certified applicant for the provision of resident services coordination at this property and certifying that the CORES certified third-party provider (applicant) is approved to submit this ERS Property Proposal on their behalf.
  • The completed budget form requires a signature from the owner/borrower prior to upload. 
If your organization is CORES certified under the Direct Model, but you are working with a partner that will be providing the frontline resident services staff at an ERS-financed property, please contact CORES staff to determine if you meet the ERS property certification threshold requirements.

To learn more about Fannie Mae's Healthy Housing Rewards™ - Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) program, the requirements to qualify for ERS financing, ERS Property Certification, and the ERS annual reporting requirements please watch the ERS Program Webinar

ERS Property Certification Proposal Application Process

How to receive ERS benefits

 

Organizations interested in ERS financing incentives must achieve CORES Certification. Applicants can apply for CORES Certification in advance of submitting a loan application or at the same time. However, ERS proposals will not be approved until CORES certification has been awarded to the applying entity. For this reason and to facilitate a smoother process, we recommend completing the CORES Certification in advance of applying for financing.

The ERS Property Certification Proposal processing fee is $750 for organizations with Full CORES Certification or $1,500 for organizations with Provisional CORES Certification. CORES staff will not begin their review of the application until payment is received.  

Once payment is received, the ERS Property Certification Proposal review process is 2-3 weeks for complete applications that do not require updates. If approved for financing by Fannie Mae, the applicant will be reimbursed by Fannie Mae for this cost (this is to be coordinated with the originating lender and servicer, not CORES staff). You can learn more about underwriting resident services and the proposal components in the videos below. 

VIDEO: UNDERWRITING RESIDENT SERVICES

Please note that the above video was recorded in October 2022 and the information discussed in this video regarding the ERS program may have changed.

VIDEO: ERS PROPOSAL COMPONENTS

Please note that the above video was recorded in October 2022 and the information discussed in this video regarding the ERS program may have changed.

Application Materials:

- Download ERS Property Certification Proposal Application for Direct & Hybrid Model (Last Updated 2/16/23)

- Download ERS Property Certification Proposal Application for Third Party Model (Last Updated 2/16/23) 

Request Access to ers Application portal

Please email CORES staff to request a direct link to the ERS Application Portals.

ERS Annual Reporting Requirements

Please note that the above video was recorded in October 2022 and the information discussed in this video regarding the ERS program may have changed. 

All properties that benefit from ERS financing incentives must submit an annual report for the life of the loan with respect to the financed property. These reports will be submitted through the CORES application portal annually for a review fee per ERS Property Report ($750 for organizations with Full Certification or $1,500 for organizations with Provisional Certification). This cost is not reimbursed by Fannie Mae.

The ERS annual report provides an opportunity to reflect on any changes to resident demographics, neighborhood services/amenities, staffing, budget, and the program plan that could have an impact on resident services coordination at the property. The applicant is also required to upload several up-to-date attachments as part of the ERS annual report (see below). 

ERS Annual Report Required Attachments

In addition to questions about the current resident services at the property, the ERS annual report requires the application to upload the following up-to-date attachments:

  • Community Scan (updated at least once every six years)
  • Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment (updated at least once every three years)
  • Property Services Plan (updated at least once every three years)
  • Resident Services Property Budget (updated annually)
  • Active, Executed MOU/formalized contract with an External Service Partner for this Property
  • Resident Indicators and Analysis Report that includes Resident Outcomes Data (updated annually). Please Note: While we recognize program enrollment and participation as important outputs to track for most practitioners, these are not outcomes measures.

    Note: Fannie Mae is requiring ERS financed properties to report three outcomes indicators of the owner/applicant's choice that align to the Property Services Plan and help demonstrate the impact of resident services. Organizations are required to select three outcomes measures in the first ERS Annual Report for the property and then report on these same measures, starting in their second ERS annual report, for the lifetime of the HHR-ERS loan. We recommend referencing this outcomes framework list as a resource when selecting outcomes measures, although applicants can propose alternative measures for review and approval by CORES staff.

  • For ERS Properties implementing a Hybrid Resident Services Coordination Model: The organization must provide a copy of an approved resident services contract that demonstrates that the CORES-certified organization/owner is contracting with a third-party provider for the provision of resident service coordination (staffing) at the property. This contract should address: (1) SOW/Roles and Responsibilities, (2) Staffing Plan, (3) Use of Space, (4) Goals/Evaluation, (5) Terms and Compensation, (6) Insurance Requirements and Indemnification, and (7) Sharing of Resident Data. 

Properties with Third-Party Resident Services Coordination must also upload the following up-to-date attachments: 

  • The organization must provide a current, executed MOU/contract between CORES-certified organization and Property owner/borrower and (2) a signed letter from the owner/borrower affirming that they continue to partner with you (the CORES certified applicant) for the provision of resident services at this property and certifying that you are approved to submit the ERS annual report on their behalf. The MOU/contract should address: (1) SOW/Roles and Responsibilities, (2) Staffing Plan, (3) Use of Space, (4) Goals/Evaluation, (5) Terms and Compensation, (6) Insurance Requirements and Indemnification, and (7) Sharing of Resident Data.
  • The organization must provide a signed letter from the owner/borrower affirming that the owner is partnering with the CORES certified applicant for the provision of resident services coordination at this property and certifying that the CORES certified third-party provider (applicant) is approved to submit this ERS Property report on their behalf.  
  • The completed budget form requires a signature from the owner/borrower prior to upload. 

ERS Annual Reporting Process

ERS Application Flow Chart

 

Please watch the following video for a high-level overview of the ERS reporting cycle. You can also learn more about the full ERS reporting process by viewing the ERS Program Webinar

VIDEO: ERS REPORTING CYCLE OVERVIEW

Please note that the above video was recorded in October 2022 and the information discussed in this video regarding the ERS program may have changed.