HUD Relaxes Rules for 55 and Older Communities to Aid People Displaced by Storm

TRENTON, N.J. – In order to encourage 55 and older communities to open their doors to residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the Christie Administration has accepted guidelines from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that allow age-restricted housing developments to make vacant units available to storm evacuees of all ages.

“We at the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) are in full support of federal efforts to address the immediate housing needs of those impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “As housing for storm-displaced residents continues to be a concern, we encourage managers and residents of 55 and older communities to welcome people of all ages displaced by the storm.”

Under the Fair Housing Act, age-restricted communities in which 80% or more of the occupied homes have 55 and older adults living in them are exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination. This exemption protects these communities from having a discrimination complaint filed against them by families with children under 18 years of age.

However, as a result of Hurricane Sandy, HUD is excluding evacuee households from the 80% threshold so that 55 and older communities can help storm-ravaged families of all ages and still retain their familial status exemption. HUD took similar action in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Evacuees are considered anyone who lived in a county declared to be a disaster area and who has been designated for individual assistance from FEMA. Any time limit on admitting and housing younger evacuees is at the discretion of the age-restricted communities.   

Age-restricted communities are not required to provide housing to evacuees younger than 55 years of age under the HUD guidelines. The decision to accept younger evacuees is completely voluntary.

Those communities that decide to open their doors to younger evacuees should have a consistent, nondiscriminatory admittance process in place. Also, like all housing providers, 55 and older communities must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and disability.

For a reference document that includes questions and answers, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at