Please review all the requirements for eligibility and the step by step application guide. If you have questions, visit our frequently asked questions page and our glossary of terms. If you cannot find the answer to your question(s) on this site, you can contact us.
We encourage you to visit our Resource Library to view examples of organizational tools (i.e. a property community scan, resident opportunities and needs assessment, or property services plan) that are requested as part of the CORES application.
We also encourage you to watch this brief training video which reviews the four documents required for a CORES application that we get the most questions on.
You can also review the questions that will appear in the application in advance:
If an organization is ready to begin the CORES application process, the organization should click on the link further down in the page to access the CORES application portal. The applicant will be required to register and set up an account and complete the pre-screen survey. The completed pre-screen survey will be reviewed by CORES. If the pre-screen is approved, the applicant will receive an email within 3-5 business days of completing the pre-screen with a link to the full application. The pre-screen approval is valid for up to 60 days.
The organization should use the link to access the full CORES Certification application. The applicant will be asked to use the same log in information that was used to set up the initial account during the pre-screen. The applicant will fill out the application which is approximately 50 questions. The questions come in several formats – drop down; drop down/select all; text boxes; and specified attachments, which must be uploaded.
The applicant can save her/his work within the portal and access it later. At any time, the applicant can download a pdf version of the application and the applicant’s answers to review or have a copy in the organization’s files. We strongly recommend keeping copies for the applicant organization’s files.
The certification program is designed to identify owners of multifamily affordable properties and service organizations working in multifamily properties that provide resident services in line with a robust service coordination system -- resident services should be a part of the organization's mission and business model in at least a portion of its portfolio.
For an organization to qualify for the certification, it must be able to provide answers and the accompanying required attachments to the following threshold questions and obtain a minimum score on the application questions. If an organization is unable to answer these threshold questions or provide the required supporting documents, the organization may NOT qualify for CORES certification.
- An organization must fit one of the approved resident services coordination models (Direct Resident Services Model, Hybrid Resident Services Model, or Third Party Resident Services model) and this model must be scaled at multiple properties.
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. This would be made available after an organization has been certified under the Direct model.
- Application Question # 1 (Direct, Hybrid, and Third Party Model Applicants)
- An organization must have experience in providing resident services coordination for a minimum of three years.
- Application Question # 2 (Direct, Hybrid, and Third Party Model Applicants)
- For Third Party Model Applicants: An organization must have a formalized contract in place with the owner of a property where it is operating.
- Application Question #5 (Third Party Model Applicants)
- Application Question #5 (Third Party Model Applicants)
- An organization must provide regional/corporate oversight and management of the property-based resident service coordination and implementation.
- Application Question #4 (Direct Model Applicant) or #4 and 6 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #8 and 9 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- An organization must provide and oversee resident services coordination and have resident services coordination staff (either hired directly or through a third-party contractor) on-site at more than one affordable housing property. Organizations will be asked to describe the typical roles and responsibilities of the on-site coordinator.
- Application Question #13 (Direct Model Applicant) or #15 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #18 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- Required Attachment: Job Description/Scope of Work
- As part of its resident services coordination process, an organization must utilize or complete a community scan prior to the delivery of services and programs.
- Certification Application Question # 21 (Direct Model Applicant) or #22 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #26 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- Required Attachment: Example Community Scan)
- As a part of its resident services coordination process, an organization must perform resident opportunities & priorities assessments at properties prior to delivery of services and programs.
- Certification Application Question # 23 (Direct Model Applicant) or #24 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #28 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- Required Attachment: Example Resident Opportunities & Priorities Assessment Report - this should be for the same property as the Example Community Scan
- As a part of its resident services coordination process, an organization must utilize the information gathered through the community scan and resident opportunities & priorities assessment to design its property services plans.
- Certification Application Question # 25 (Direct Model Applicant) or #26 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #29 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- Required Attachment: Example Property Services Plan – this should be for the same property as the example Opportunities & Priorities Assessment and the example Community Scan)
- An organization must describe how it addresses low participation in a resident service program/activity. This should include how the organization analyzes why there is low participation and what the response is.
- Certification Application Question # 37(Direct Model Applicant) or #39 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #43 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- At a property level, an organization must track, analyze, and report the indicators resulting from its resident services efforts.
- Certification Application Question # 43 (Direct Model Applicant) or #45 (Hybrid Model Applicant) or #48 (Third Party Model Applicant)
- Required Attachment: Resident Indicators & Analysis Report for a Single Property - this should be for the same property as the Example Community Scan, Resident Opportunities & Priorities Assessment, and Property Services Plan)
If an organization meets most of the requirements listed above, but is unable to meet ALL the requirements listed, the organization MAY qualify for a Provisional CORES Certification. Please contact CORES staff for more information.
We also encourage you to watch this training video which reviews the four documents required for a CORES application that we get the most questions on. This provides a more in-depth look at the Community Scan, Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment (formerly called Resident Opportunities and Needs Assessment), Property Services Plan, and Resident Indicators and Analysis Report.
Start Your Application
To get started on the application, please follow this link to register and complete the pre-screening.
Please make sure to use Chrome; Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox do not support this application well and you may have technical challenges.
CORES Portal Guidance
Download this PDF for step-by-step instructions on how to navigate the CORES Application Portal!
Application Review Process
Once the application is submitted in the portal (and deemed complete by CORES staff), it will be reviewed by CORES reviewers within 4-6 weeks using the following applicable rubric (depending on the applicant’s service delivery model):
All questions are scored on either a 0/1 or 0/1/2 point scale. To obtain full CORES certification (which applies to the organization’s entire portfolio and is valid for five years), 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.
CORES reviewers will score the application and write up an 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 Peer Review Committee come from the Advisory Committee, which is 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 reviewer’s recommendation and make a final determination to either approve or deny the application. If approved, then the applicant will receive an email/letter notifying them of CORES certification. All applicants may request a summary analysis of their application once the review process if complete. If the application is denied, applicants can review this summary and determine if they wish to appeal the decision.
Once certified, the CORES certification applies across the entire portfolio and is inclusive of family, senior and supportive housing communities.
Appealing CORES Certification Denial
An organization that has been denied certification may request a summary analysis and scoring of its application. After reviewing that analysis, if the organization determines it has been evaluated incorrectly (and that there was no misinterpretation of the requirements or questions), it can provide the necessary documentation for an appeal. The documentation should provide detailed evidence on the specific criteria that the organization is contending. This appeal will be reviewed by the full Peer Review Committee.
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.
What To Expect When You Recertify:
- The recertification application will be submitted through the same portal used for the initial application and certification.
- The questions will be streamlined to simplify the application process
- Organizations will be asked to answer a similar set of questions as the initial certification. For many questions, applicants will be asked to simply update their answers from the initial certification to reflect any changes in their approach, infrastructure, and/or changes in industry standards.
- Several questions will be eliminated - especially those where little might have changed or additional information is not needed in order to re-certify.
- There may be some updated wording on several questions that were included in the initial application, where additional clarity was needed.
- 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.
- There will be THREE NEW THRESHOLD REQUIREMENTS. Thresholds are requirements an organization must meet in order to receive and maintain certification. Organizations will be required to still meet the initial nine threshold/eligibility requirements plus these new thresholds/criteria:
For each of the example Key Documents (Community Scan, Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment, Property Service Plan, and Resident Indicators and Analysis Report), the organization will need to upload an updated example from the initial property submitted at time of CORES certification, plus examples of each document/tool for one additional property in their portfolio.
An example of an executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or formal agreement with a partner organization from the last three years.
Please Note: CORES requested an example of an executed MOU in the initial application, but it was not a Threshold Requirement
The applicant must be able to clearly articulate (1) what types of community level data are considered/assessed and (2) how community level data is used to inform and assist with program/service planning. This type of data might include: census data, local school data, data from a local government agency that provides context and bench-marking for the broader community etc.
Steps to Recertification:
The earliest that any fully certified CORES organization will need to recertify is 2023 (for organizations certified in 2018).
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.
The recertification application will be submitted through the same portal used for the initial application and certification. All applicants should review their initial application and any feedback they received, in advance of beginning the recertification process.
We recommend starting the process at least three months prior to your recertification date -- to avoid a lapse in certification. If you are already certified, the recertification date was included in the original certification notification and letter that you received.
Organizations approaching their CORES recertification date will receive an email from CORES staff several months prior to the date required to submit recertification materials.
CORES staff developed this recertification process with the input of existing CORES certified organizations. CORES staff is continuing to refine the recertification process and develop the online platform to submit the materials. Once the application and process if finalized, CORES will offer webinars for organizations with additional information and guidance.
If you have questions or feedback, please contact us: [email protected]
Applying for ERS Financing (Certified Organizations Only)
Fannie Mae Healthy Housing Rewards™ Enhanced Resident Services
Affordable housing owners/organizations may be applying for CORES Certification to qualify for access to Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards™ - Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) financing incentives.
Organizations interested in these incentives may apply for CORES Certification in advance of submitting a loan application or at the same time. We recommend completing the CORES Certification in advance of applying for financing, to allow plenty of time for the required review and approval process. Please keep in mind that the review process for CORES certification takes between 4 and 6 weeks (once CORES receives a complete application that is ready for full scoring).
To qualify for ERS financing incentives, an organization will be required to submit an ERS Property Certification Proposal through the CORES application portal. This application asks for detailed information about the property, the profile of the residents, and the applicant’s plan for resident services coordination at the property. The ERS Property Certification process takes 2-3 weeks (once CORES receives a complete application that is ready for full scoring).
If the organization is already CORES certified, then the applicant will log in through the CORES application portal to access the ERS Property Certification Proposal. If the organization is not CORES certified, then the applicant must start the process of applying for CORES certification before they can access the ERS Certification proposal through the portal.
The cost for the ERS Property Certification is $750. Applicants will be required to pay this fee in order to submit the application to the DUS lender. However, if approved for financing by Fannie Mae, the applicant will be reimbursed by Fannie Mae for this cost (to be coordinated with the originating lender and servicer).
Learn more about Fannie Mae's Healthy Housing Rewards - Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) program, the requirement for qualifying for ERS financing, the ERS Property-level certification, and the annual reporting requirements for the ERS program.
2021 Webinar Recording and Webinar Slides
You can also learn more about Fannie Mae's investment in the social determinants of health through the Healthy Housing Rewards Initiative. Fannie Mae discusses the initiative as a part of the National Housing Conference's Restoring Neighborhoods webinar series.
To get an ERS Property Certification, applicants must be able to answer the following threshold questions about the property:
The organization must describe the relationship between the CORES certified organization and the property owner/borrower.
The organization needs to describe how community spaces and amenities and the overall design of the property meet the needs of the expected population.
The organization must look at and provide some neighborhood/community level data for the property. In addition, applicants will be asked to provide a Community Scan for the community where the property will be or (if not yet completed) they will be asked to submit it in the first-year report.
The organization must provide resident demographics, if available. In addition, applicants will be asked to provide a Resident Opportunities & Priorities Assessment (formerly called Resident Opportunities & Needs Assessment) or (if not yet completed) they will be asked to submit it in the first-year report.
If relevant, the organization must describe if there are any nearby or co-located programs, services, and/or partners that provide ongoing support to the residents of the property that may mitigate some of the need for a more robust resident services staffing model at the property.
The organization will be asked to describe 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, any virtual supports).
Please click here for additional guidance on ERS staffing model requirements.
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 complete a budget template that shows the anticipated budget for resident services coordination and services for the property.
The budget should capture both the projected discount through Fannie Mae's Healthy Housing Rewards Initiative (break this out) and the additional resources the owner has committed or identified to support an enhanced level of resident services coordination.
Please email CORES staff to request a direct link to the ERS Application Portals.
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 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 annual report provides an opportunity for the organization to reflect on any changes to resident demographics, neighborhood services/amenities, staffing, budget, and program plan that could have an impact on resident services coordination at the property. The reports shall also include the following up-to date attachments for the property:
1. Community Scan (updated at least once every six years)
2. Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment (updated at least once every three years)
3. Property Services Plan (Updated at least once every three years)
4. Resident Services Property Budget (updated annually)
5. Example Active Executed MOU/formalized contract with External Service Partners for this Property
6. Resident Outcomes Data (updated annually)
As a requirement of receiving financing through Fannie Mae’s Healthy Healthy Housing Rewards -Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) program, organizations/owners are required to demonstrate that they are outcomes-driven. Fannie Mae is requiring ERS financed properties to report on three outcomes indicators of the owner/organization’s choice that align to the program plan at the Property and help to demonstrate the impact of the resident services coordination efforts. Organizations will be required to select three outcomes measures as part of the First Annual Report for each property in the HHR-ERS program (these can vary by ERS-financed property, as/if appropriate); and then report on these measures in their Resident Indicators & Analysis Report, which is submitted as part of the ERS Annual Report (second year of ERS reporting and later) for the term of the HHR-ERS loan at each property. Although not required, we recommend referencing this outcomes framework list as a resource when selecting outcomes measures. If an organization would prefer to use measures that are not found on this list, they may propose alternative measures for review by CORES.
Note - While we recognize program enrollment and participation as important outputs to track for most practitioners, these are not outcomes measures.
7. For CORES Certified Third-Party Providers ONLY: (1) a current executed MOU/contract between CORES-certified organization and Property Owner and (2) a signed letter from the owner/sponsor 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