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Explaining the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995

by Published On: Apr 01, 1999Updated On: Dec 22, 2011

The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) preserved for senior citizens the right to live in age-distinct housing by exempting 3 categories of housing for older persons from the ban on discriminating against familial status.  

Below is a summary of HOPA. You may also want to check out this Housing for Older Persons Act Fact Sheet, which summarizes the types of housing exempt under the law and what aging services providers should know to qualify for an exemption.

Summary of Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995

The Implementation of the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 final rule, issued in the April 2, 1999, Federal Register (FR-40944-02), amends the requirements for qualification for the “housing for persons who are 55 years of age or older” portion of the “housing for older persons” exemption. 

In addition, Housing for Older Persons Act established a good faith defense against civil money damages for persons who reasonably relied in good faith on the application of the “housing for older persons” exemption even when, in fact, the housing provider did not qualify for the exemption. 

In a significant change to the proposed rules issued in January 1997, a project that doesn't meet the 80% test will have only one year to meet the requirement by reserving vacant units for persons 55 and over.

The Housing for Older Persons Act eliminated earlier provisions of the Act requiring “significant services and facilities” that, due to narrow interpretation, hindered senior housing. As a result of Congress’ explicit findings of the need to remove impediments to senior housing, HUD has refused to strictly interpret the new requirements and instead has “attempted to address the issue in the broadest possible terms to account for the large variety of senior communities.” 

The final rule clarifies that “as Congress did not state that HOPA should be retroactively applied...matter[s] involving a claim of alleged discrimination occurring before Dec. 28, 1995, will be covered by those laws and regulations in effect at the time of the claimed violation.” 

Therefore, as stated in the preamble to the final rule, “the burden will be on the housing provider to prove that it meets the requirements set for in this regulation in order to qualify for the exemption.” 

The updated regulations was incorporated into 24 CFR Part 100.


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