You can find additional help in our glossary.
Who can apply for CORES certification?
Direct Model – Affordable housing owners/organizations that retain direct responsibility for the management, delivery, and implementation of Resident Service Coordination at their own properties. Organizations are not required to provide resident services coordination at all their properties.
Hybrid Model – Affordable rental 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 otherwise retain leadership, management, and support capacity for resident services coordination at their properties.
Third-Party Resident Services Coordination Contractor – 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. I this case, the third party organization would be certified (and not the owner of the affordable housing).
How is a CORES application scored?
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.
What kind of resident services program qualifies CORES certification?
The CORES certification is designed for affordable housing owners/organizations that provide resident services in line with a robust coordination system.
A resident services coordination system includes all functions tied to the organizational mission to implement resident services in affordable rental housing, including corporate and site-based staff, funding, technology systems, services and programs, research and evaluation, organizational knowledge and tools necessary to support resident services.
To be eligible, 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, but the organization must be able to demonstrate this level of infrastructure and implementation is in place at multiple properties.
How does applying for the CORES certification relate to the application process for Fannie Mae's Healthy Housing Rewards™ - Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) product enhancement?
An application for CORES Certification may be submitted by an organization in advance of loan application or at the same time.
An organization seeking financing through Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards™ initiative must also submit an ERS Property Certification Application in connection with its loan application. Owners should consult with their Fannie Mae Delegated Underwriting and Servicing DUS™ lender for further guidance.
Does CORES Certification apply to an organization’s entire portfolio?
Yes, an organization applies once and if approved, the CORES certification is applicable across the entire portfolio and is inclusive of family, senior and supportive housing communities.
What is involved in the CORES application process?
For detailed information on how to apply for CORES and a description of the application process, see our Step by Step Guide.
Who manages the CORES certification process?
The CORES certification is managed by Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF).
How long will it take to find out if an applying organization has been approved for CORES certification?
Once an application if fully complete, it is expected that the review process will take four to six weeks.
How long will the CORES certification last?
The CORES certification lasts five years. After five years, the organization must re-apply by updating its initial certification application.
Are there any minimum requirements to be eligible for CORES certification?
- An organization must fit one of the approved
resident services coordination models (
Direct Resident Services Coordination Model,
Hybrid Resident Services Coordination Model, or
Third Party Resident Services Coordination Model)
Application Question # 1 (Direct, Hybrid, and Third Party Model Applicants)
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.
- 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 services coordination and implementation.
Application Question #4 (Direct Model Applicants) 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 & needs 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 & Needs 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 & needs 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 & Needs Assessment and the example Community Scan)
An organization must describe the actions it takes to address a situation when there is low participation in a resident services program/activity offered at its properties. 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)
If an organization meets most of the requirements listed above, but is unable to meet ALL of the requirements listed, the organization MAY qualify for a Provisional CORES Certification. Please contact CORES staff for more information.
- An organization must fit one of the approved resident services coordination models ( Direct Resident Services Coordination Model, Hybrid Resident Services Coordination Model, or Third Party Resident Services Coordination Model)
Are there required documents that must be provided to apply for CORES certification?
The CORES certification application prompts the applicant to submit several documents throughout the application process. These documents provide the reviewer with relevant information to support the resident services coordination model being narratively described in the applicant’s text answers. The items with an asterisk are required documents. Applicants will not be able to submit their application without attaching these documents. While the other documents are not required in order to submit the application, the applicant may lose potential points if they are unable to provide these documents.
- Organizational Chart
- Protocols for Storing Resident Data Electronically
- Resident Services Coordinator Job Description*
- Organizational Goals, Theory of Change, or Logic Model
- Example Completed Community Scan* from within the last five years
- Example Completed Resident Opportunities & Needs Assessment Report* from within the last three years
- Example Property Services Plan* from within the last three years
- Example MOU/Service Agreement with External Service Partner (if relevant) that was executed/renewed within the last three years
- Example Resident Indicators and Analysis Report (Single Property) * from within the last three years
- Example Impact Analysis/Report (multiple properties)
- Example Contract between Third Party Resident Services Organization and Property Owner* (For Third Party Model Applicants ONLY)
Please Note: The example Community Scan, Resident Opportunities & Needs Assessment Report, Property Services Plan, and Resident Indicators & Analysis Report (single property) should all be for the same property.
Check out 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.
Are there different types of CORES certifications for organizations that serve a variety of populations (e.g. family, senior, supportive housing)?
No, the CORES certification will apply to all types of service-enriched housing. Applying organizations only need to submit one application for certification, even if they provide resident services coordination at a variety of property types.
Who will have access to the materials submitted through the CORES application?
Only CORES reviewers will have access to the materials submitted for certification through the CORES application. If the applicant indicates its intention to also apply for the Fannie Mae Healthy Housing Rewards™ - Enhanced Resident Services (ERS) financing incentives, SAHF will share the applicant's name with Fannie Mae. If the applicant qualifies for and receives Fannie Mae ERS incentives, then information provided by the applicant will become available to Fannie Mae.
What is the cost to apply for CORES certification?
The application fee for CORES certification is $5,500. If certified, this fee covers the five-year CORES certification. The application fee will be waived for organizations that fall under either Direct or Hybrid Resident Services Coordination models that qualify for Fannie Mae Multifamily Affordable Housing financing. All applicants will be required to fill out a pre-screening survey. If the organization is eligible for Fannie Mae affordable rental financing, as deemed by Fannie Mae, then the application fee will be waived. The applicant will be notified within 3-5 business days, after completing the pre-screening.
If the organization falls under the Third Party Resident Services Coordination or is not eligible for Fannie Mae affordable rental financing, then the organization can elect to pay the $5,500 fee. Payment will be required before the application can be submitted for review. Credit card or PayPal are acceptable forms of payment.
*Streamlined* Third-Party Resident Services Coordination Contractor Option -- 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 first application under the Direct model (where questions/answers are applicable) in their Third Party Model application. The cost for this second application is $2,750. 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. In interested in this pathway, please contact CORES staff for more information.
Please note: There are additional fees for submitting a Healthy Housing Rewards - Enhanced Resident Services ™ Property Certification Application.
What happens if the organization is NOT approved for CORES certification?
In situations where an organization is denied CORES certification, the organization may request a copy of the scoring analysis. This will address the elements in an organization’s resident services coordination program that do not meet the requirements for CORES certification. The organization will have the opportunity to address these areas in its program model and reapply again after 12 months.
If the organization believes its application was not reviewed or scored accurately, the organization may appeal the decision.
Who reviews the application?
The application will be reviewed for completion and then scored by staff at CORES. Once scored, staff will create an application summary memo that will include: the scoring rubric, application summary, and provide either an approval or denial recommendation to a Peer Review Committee. All applications and application summary memos will get a secondary review by another CORES staff member. This recommendation will be reviewed by a second staff member for concurrence and then will be sent to a Peer Review Committee which will make final determination on CORES application approval or denial.
How will CORES make sure to include perspectives from the resident services and affordable housing fields?
An Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from different organizations and agencies including practitioners, funders, intermediaries, trainers, and consultants within the affordable housing and resident services fields, will be formed to provide feedback on the certification process, its effectiveness, and any additional resources needed. Members of this group will also be asked to serve, on a rotating basis, on an ad hoc Peer Review Committee to review and provide final approval for certifications.
What is the Peer Review Committee?
Six members of an Advisory Committee will be selected to participate in a Peer Review Committee Pool. Three members will be drawn from this pool to serve on Peer Review Committees which will be responsible for reviewing and approving or denying CORES certification applications.
Is there an appeals process?
All applicants may request a summary analysis of their application once the review process is complete. If the organization has been denied certification, it 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 Pool.