Rules for Electronic Waiting Lists at HUD Projects

In most cases, HUD projects are required to maintain waiting lists. A waiting list is a formal record of applicants for housing that identifies the applicant’s name, date and time of application, selection preferences claimed, income category, and the need for an accessible unit. The waiting list may be kept in either a bound journal or a computer program. While many of the HUD waiting list rules apply to both the manual and electronic waiting lists, some are unique to the electronic lists.

Setting Up the List

            There are two main issues to consider when establishing an electronic waiting list:

1) How to maintain the list – you can use a spreadsheet or specially designed software. If special software is used, there are some highly recommended features:

            (a) Tracking History: all changes made to the waiting list must be tracked;

           (b) Handbook Rules Should be Built into the System: this alerts the user when a change is being made to the list that violates HUD rules.

           (c) List Filtering: allows the list to be sorted by various categories including unit size, applicant age, and income categories;

            (d) Integration: allows applicant information to be keyed into the system only once;

            (e) Reports: e.g., comparing information like precertified applicants and yearly turnovers;

            (f) Usability; and

            (g) User Control: limits password access to selected staff users.

2) How to Convert a Manual to an Electronic Waiting List – ensure that no applicant names are lost or misspelled, and the list’s order is not changed. Once the manual list is transcribed to the electronic list, the manual list should be retained for at least 36-months.

Meeting HUD Requirements – Primary HUD Rules:

1) Include required information –

  • Name of head of household;
  • Date and time application was submitted;
  • Applicant’s preference status;
  • Applicant’s annual income level for income targeting purposes (e.g., ELI, VLI, or LI);
  • Whether the applicant needs an accessible unit, including the need for accessible features;
  • Unit size needed.

Note – the applicant’s race/ethnicity, gender, or family size should not be included on the waiting list.

It is recommended that the applicant phone number, address (regular and email), and dates of contact also be on the list.

2) Explain all changes – this includes why applicants were selected, withdrawn, rejected, or had family status changed. Any list should include a comment section.

3) Document all Changes – the following three methods for documenting changes should be used:

  • Use a “data backup function” that records the time and date that changes are made to the list;
  • Print a record of the list at least monthly to show each applicant’s place on and selection from the list. A copy should be made each time an applicant is added to or selected from the list. The copy should include the time and date of the printing. Keep a copy in the applicant file and central waiting list file. If there has been no change to the list, keep a copy in the waiting list file.
  • Re-sort and print the list after making changes in an applicant’s status, such as changes in family composition and unit size

Both before and after an applicant is removed from the list, the list should be printed and preserved.

If the list is printed monthly to document the changes, you should also file a copy of the monthly rejection letters with the printouts.

4) Implement Safeguards – the following safeguards are not required, but are recommended:

  • Limit password access to only staff members who maintain the waiting list;
  • The system should track the time and date each change is made to the list and should identify the staff member who made the change;
  • Store hard copies in a secure location;
  • Back-up the list every time it is modified;
  • Store back-ups both on and offsite; and
  • Take steps to avoid staff manipulation.
    • Print out the list periodically and compare it to the previous print-out to detect any inappropriate changes. This should be done at least every few months.