Apply for Certification

Before Applying

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:

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)

Step-By-Step Guide

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 6 months.

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)
       
  • 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.

Direct & Hybrid Model Applicants:
Start Your CORES Application Today!

Third Party Model Applicants:
Start Your CORES Application Today!

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)

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.

Click here to download the rubric summary.

Last updated 3/22/23

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 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 submit a full application 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 submit an application 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 and Hybrid 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)

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 Applicants:
Start Your CORES recertificatIOn 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 2021 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 2021 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 2021 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 2021 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 2021 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.