On March 2, 2021, the Rural Housing Service’s Office of Multifamily Housing sent out the following:

Multifamily Housing Partners,

Given the recent disaster declaration in Texas, we wanted to clarify guidelines for Rural Housing Service Multifamily properties and tenants affected by the Texas storms or other disasters in the future.

Letters of Priority Engagement (LOPE) are issued to tenants of Rural Development properties whose units become uninhabitable due to a localized or widespread natural disaster, including Presidentially Declared Disasters. For Presidentially Declared Disasters, FEMA issues registration letters certifying displacement to both tenants of Rural Housing Multifamily and non-Rural Housing households.

Either a FEMA registration letter or a LOPE letter grants the applicant priority access at a Rural Development Multifamily building. A displaced applicant can go immediately to the top of the waiting list for occupancy. In addition, property owners and management agents may request Special Actions and Waivers that can be provided by the Agency through their assigned servicing representative, including waivers to allow for temporary housing of displaced persons who do not otherwise fit the occupancy criteria, for example, a family may temporarily move into a building with an elderly designation.

Thank you for your assistance in housing displaced persons during this time and during all natural disasters. If you have questions about how RD’s policy applies for your property, please contact your assigned servicing representative.

Nancie-Ann Bodell
Deputy Administrator
Multifamily Housing