The Certified Organization for Resident Engagement & Services (CORES) Certification recognizes organizations that have developed a robust commitment, capacity, and competency in providing resident services coordination in affordable rental housing. In addition, this website provides resources, tools, and best practices to help providers of resident services coordination to improve their service delivery and management systems.
A resident services coordination system refers to all functions tied to the organizational mission to implement resident services in affordable housing rental 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
Framework for Resident Services Coordination
Quality, affordable housing is a foundational social determinant of health and can serve as a platform to increase access to opportunity and promote the independence and dignity of residents. In order to realize the full benefits of housing as a platform to create healthier and more equitable communities, housing and services must be connected in a way that not only provides resources to residents, but also recognizes and supports the agency of residents and gives them real voice and shared power in shaping the design, culture, and the operations of their community. A systematic and strategic approach to resident services coordination is a critical tool for making such a connection.
In 2016, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) formed a Community of Practice and worked with SAHF members to better understand and define the key capacities, approaches, and structures that have been developed by many leading affordable housing organizations to systematically and thoughtfully frame and implement resident services at their properties. The goal of this work was to identify replicable and scalable approaches to resident services – both at the organizational/corporate level and property levels. Following extensive engagement with SAHF members and other partners in the health, social services, and education fields, SAHF created the Framework for a System of Resident Services Coordination, which was initially published in 2018.
This 2021 Update to the Framework for a System of Resident Services Coordination (Framework) builds off the original tool and highlights the commitments that many in the field are making to re-imagine some of the power structures and decision-making policies that have historically shaped affordable housing development and resident services initiatives. In addition to laying out some of the common elements and recommendations for an effective implementation of a systems-approach to resident services, the Framework now also identifies key strategies and opportunities to implement more resident-centered practices and processes to support greater equity and resident well-being.
Introductory Webinar: CORES 101 Overview of the Certification & Application
Recorded and published in March, 2022
The CORES Certification recognizes organizations with a proven track record of providing quality resident services coordination in affordable rental housing. Achieving CORES Certification signals an organization's commitment to the highest standards for resident services, a deep commitment to resident health and well-being, and data-informed operations and decision making.
Access Funding and Partnerships
Organizations regularly leverage CORES certification to unlock funding and partnership opportunities. CORES Certification is one key requirement in order for an owner of multifamily affordable housing to qualify for Fannie Mae™ Healthy Housing Rewards—Enhanced Resident Services™, a financing incentive to help pay for resident services.
The Value of CORES Certification for Practitioners
- Demonstrated Commitment to Quality: CORES certification is a signal that an organization has the highest level of commitment to industry best practices and serves as an external validation of the quality and systems-approach to these services.
- Access Funding and Partnerships: CORES certification unlocks opportunity for partnerships, funding, and financing, including Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards™—Enhanced Resident Services™ (ERS) program.
- Deepen Impact and Understanding: CORES certification is a mechanism that can help an organization set goals for improvement, deepen impact, and communicate this impact internally and externally. The process of evaluating and formalizing organizational processes and practices drives a deeper understanding and commitment to resident services across an organization.
Hear about the impact and added value of the CORES Certification from Community Housing Partners (CHP), who earned their CORES certification in 2020:
The Value of CORES Certification for Partners
- Improved Health Outcomes: Housing is a key social determinant of health and CORES certified organizations understand that investments in resident services lead to greater resident health outcomes.
- Accountable and Collaborative Partners: CORES organizations understand the value of partnerships that center resident outcomes. In order to achieve certification, organizations are evaluated on the process for selecting partners and their process for ensuring alignment across partnership goals and outcomes. The CORES certification helps bring together committed organizations and partners to improve resident outcomes in a more meaningful way.
- Data-Driven Approach to Resident Impact: CORES certified organizations leverage data to make more informed decisions about operations and programming, prioritizing measurable impact on residents’ health and well-being. CORES certification puts forth a process to guide data collection that helps organizations set goals for improvement, deepen impact, and communicate meaningfully about impact to internal and external audiences.
The certification program is designed to identify owners 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.
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 properties:
Direct Model – Affordable housing owners/organizations that retain direct responsibility for the management, delivery, and implementation of resident services coordination at their own properties. Organizations are not required to provide resident services coordination at all of their properties.
Hybrid Model – Affordable housing owners/organizations that contract with an un-related third party entity (either a property management company or another services organization) to staff the on-site property-based resident services coordinators/staff, but the otherwise retains 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. In this case, the third party organization would be certified (and not the owner of the affordable housing.)
*Streamlined* Third-Party Resident Services Coordination Contractor Model – This option has been developed for organizations that operate under a Direct Model, but have also developed a business of providing Third Party Resident Services Coordination services to other owners. This pathway allows applicants to use portions of their application under the Direct model (where questions/answers are applicable) in their Third Party Model application. To qualify for this option, an organization must first successfully apply for CORES under the Direct model. Once the applicant has been certified under the Direct model, they can seek Third-Party Certification through a streamlined application within six months after their Direct Model certification is received (an organization may still apply for the Third Party Model after these six months, but will not be able to use the streamlined application to do so). If interested in this pathway, please contact CORES staff for more information (at [email protected]).
To be eligible for CORES, an organization does not need to offer a CORES-level of resident services coordination or have resident services staff at ALL properties within their portfolio. However, the organization must be able to demonstrate that this CORES-level of infrastructure and implementation is in place at multiple properties within their portfolio -- that resident services (with a frontline resident services staff function) is a part of the organization's mission and business model.
To apply for CORES, an organization must be able to answer yes to the following set of preliminary questions:
- Is the organization a multifamily housing provider with at least three years of experience? (Does not apply if organization is applying under the Third-Party Resident Services Coordination model)
- Has the organization provided resident services coordination (consistent with the definition) for Senior/Family/Supportive properties for a minimum of three years?
- Does the organization currently provide and oversee resident services coordination and have a Resident Services Coordinator (either hired directly or through a third-party contractor) on site at more than one affordable rental housing property?
- Does the organization provide regional/corporate level oversight and management of the property-based resident services coordination and implementation?
- When offering Resident Services Coordination at a property, does the organization, a partner, or its third-party Resident Services contractor perform or utilize a community scan of local services and partners prior to delivery of services and programs?
- When offering Resident Services Coordination at a property, does the organization or its third-party Resident Services contractor perform a resident opportunities and priorities assessment at the property level?
- When offering Resident Services Coordination at a property, does the organization or its third-party Resident Services contractor develop a specific property services plan at each property?
- Does a staff person at the corporate/regional level review the community scan, resident opportunities and priorities assessments, and the property plan?
- When offering Resident Services Coordination at a property, does the organization or its third party Resident Services contractor develop a Resident Indicators and Analysis Report which reports on and provides some analysis on indicators being tracked?
- For organizations applying under the Third Party Resident Services Coordination Model: Does the organization have a formalized contract with the owner of the property where it has been hired to provide resident services coordination services?
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 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 Needs Assessment, Property Services Plan, and Resident Indicators and Analysis Report. It also provides a practitioner's perspective of using the documents at a property.
The Certified Organization for Resident Engagement & Services (CORES) Certification recognizes organizations that have developed a robust commitment, capacity, and competency for providing resident services coordination in affordable rental housing. Achieving CORES certification signals an organization’s commitment to the highest standards for resident services, a deep commitment to resident health and well-being, and data-informed operations and decision-making. Organizations with a scalable and adaptable systems approach to resident services infrastructure, supporting resident engagement and programming in multiple properties, are eligible to pursue the CORES certification.
Organizations regularly leverage CORES certification to unlock funding and partnership opportunities. CORES Certification is one key requirement in order for an owner of multifamily affordable housing to qualify for Fannie Mae™ Healthy Housing Rewards—Enhanced Resident Services™, a financing incentive to help pay for resident services. Please visit Fannie Mae's website to learn more about the Healthy Housing Rewards™ Initiative.