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. Front line, 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 as well as 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 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 has been in place at multiple properties within their portfolio for a minimum of three years.

Application

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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 register and set up an account and complete the pre-screen survey (through the links above) to ensure your organization meets the eligibility requirements for certification. 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 6 months.

Complete Application: 
Next, the organization will use the emailed link to access the full CORES Certification application. The applicant will fill out the application which 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 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.

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. 

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. 

CORES Review and Certification Determination:
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.

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 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 reviewer’s recommendation and makes 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. Once certified, the CORES certification applies across the entire  portfolio and is inclusive of family, senior, and supportive housing communities. 

All applicants will receive a summary analysis of their application once the review process is complete. 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 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.


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.

What To Expect When You Recertify:

  • The recertification application will be submitted through a separate portal link, which is available further down this page under the 'Start Your Recertification Application' section. 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 recertification questions will be streamlined to simplify the application process.
    • 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 be NEW MINIMUM SCORING REQUIREMENTS. Organizations must meet additional minimum scoring requirements in order to receive and maintain CORES certification. Organizations will be required to meet the additional minimum requirements, as follows:
    • For each of the four Key Property-Level Documents (Community Scan, Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment, Property Service Plan, and Resident Indicators and Analysis Report), the organization must demonstrate use of these documents/tools at two properties: (1) an updated example of each document/tool from the initial CORES application property and​​​​​​ (2) an up-to-date example of each document/tool for one additional property in the organization's portfolio.

    • The applicant must utilize community-level data to achieve certification. The applicant must clearly articulate what types of community-level data are considered/assessed AND also how community level data is used to inform & assist with program/service planning (i.e., census data, local school data, data from local government agencies, etc.). Community data should already be captured in the applicant's Community Scan.

    • The applicant must demonstrate that they are collecting and tracking resident OUTCOMES, not only outputs such as participation or the number of referrals provided. This should be captured in the Resident Indicators and Analysis Report.

  • There will be a NEW THRESHOLD REQUIREMENT. Organizations will be required to still meet the initial nine threshold/eligibility requirements plus the following additional threshold requirement:
    • The applicant must include an example of an executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or formal written agreement with a partner organization from the last three years. This agreement does not have to be in place at the same two properties used for the other four property-level threshold documents/tools (i.e., Community Scan, Resident Opportunities and Priorities Assessment, Property Services Plan, or Resident Indicators and Analysis Report).

      1. Please Note: The initial CORES application included questions about partnerships and requested an example MOU, but this was not previously a Threshold Requirement. The MOU is now a Threshold Requirement for Recertification.

Steps to Recertification:

  • The earliest that any fully certified CORES organization will need to recertify is 2023 (for organizations certified in 2018). Please see the 'Recertification Application Timeline Guidance' section below for further guidance.

    • 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.

  • The recertification application will be submitted through a separate portal link, which is available below under the 'Start Your Recertification Application' section. 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. Certification questions will also be in a similar format. 

  • If you are already CORES certified, the recertification date was included in the original certification email notification and letter that you received from CORES staff.

Recertification Application Timeline Guidance

We have developed the following guidance to help organizations understand the timeline for review and determine when they plan to begin their recertification application process. 

The CORES application review period is 6 weeks from when CORES has received a complete submission that does not require any updates from the applicant. Please keep in mind that almost all applicants have needed to make updates to their initial application submission before it can be considered complete and advance for full scoring and peer review.

With this in mind, we are providing the following guidance:  

  • We require that applicants begin the application process by submitting their recertification pre-screen application 12 weeks in advance of the certification expiration date. This can be accessed through the Recertification portal (link under the 'Start Your Recertification Application' section below).

  • Organizations may initiate the application process for recertification as early as 6 months (24 weeks) in advance of their certification expiration date to ensure plenty of time.

  • We recommend that applicants submit their full application at least 8 weeks in advance of their certification expiration date to ensure plenty of time if updates are needed; however, we require that complete recertification submissions be submitted at least 6 weeks in advance of the certification expiration date, to avoid a lapse in certification.

    • NOTE: If an application is received at least 6 weeks in advance of the expiration date and meets the requirements for recertification, but the review and processing time takes more than 6 weeks, the applicant will not see a lapse in certification. Applications that are incomplete, that require significant updates to their application, and/or do not meet the requirements for recertification may not qualify for an extension of their certification. 

  • Applications received less than 6 weeks in advance of the certification expiration date will be considered late. Given the length of the internal and external application review processes, late submissions cannot be processed in less than 6 weeks, and the applicant’s certification will lapse. 

Example Recertification Timeline 

Org's Initial Certification Date: June 15, 2018 

Org’s Certification Expiration Date: June 15, 2023 (5 years) 

Example Recertification Application Submission Timeline Recertification Submission Date 
You may choose to initiate the application process for recertification as early as 6 months (24 weeks) in advance of your certification expiration, but not earlier 

Starting December 29th 2022 

(24 weeks in advance of expiration)  

We require that you submit a recertification pre-screen application 3 months (12 weeks) in advance of the certification expiration date 

March 23rd 2023 

(12 weeks in advance of expiration) 

We recommend that you submit your application for recertification at least 8 weeks in advance of your certification expiration 

April 20th 2023 

(8 weeks in advance of expiration) 

We require that you submit your application for recertification at least 6 weeks in advance of your certification expiration 

May 4th 2023 

(6 weeks in advance of expiration) 

Submissions received later than 6 weeks in advance of your certification expiration will be late. This application will still be reviewed, but cannot be processed in advance of your renewal date; and your certification will lapse

After May 4th 2023 

(Less than 6 weeks in advance of expiration) 

 

CORES Recertification Overview Webinar

Recorded on January 26th, 2023. Slides for this webinar can be found here.

You can review the Recertification questions that appear in the Direct, Hybrid, & Third Party model applications in advance below:

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)

Start Your Recertification Application:

To get started on the application, please complete the Recertification pre-screening 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; 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!

CORES Recertification Portal Guidance

Please 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

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.

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 learn more about CORES, please go here. Watch our CORES 101 webinar for an overview of the CORES certification requirements and application process.

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.

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).

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.

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).

 

How to receive ERS benefits

 

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.

2022 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.

Please note that the above video was recorded in 2019 and the information discussed in this video regarding the ERS program may have changed.

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.

Download the ERS Property Certification ApplicatioN
Direct & Hybrid Model Applicants

Download the ERS Property Certification Application
Third Party Model Applicants

Download Applications Last Updated: Direct + Hybrid - 2/16/23 and Third Party - 2/16/23

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

 

Annual Reporting

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 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.

 

ERS Application Flow Chart

 

 

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.

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

8. For CORES Certified Hybrid Model Organizations ONLY: a current executed MOU/contract that demonstrates that the CORES-certified organization/owner is contracting with a third-party partner for the provision of resident service coordination at the property level.