Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 19, 2013

Definition of 'family' changing for housing

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

---- — The Knoxville Public Housing Board is seeking comment in regard to changes of the definition of “family.”

Public Housing was notified a year ago that the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) intended to expand the definition to be more inclusive of same-sex relationships. Knoxville Public Housing’s policy, if approved, will be amended to read, “Family includes, but is not limited to the following, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.”

Director Janice Kerner said the department has been following this policy, though it was not officially changed. Some departments used to require couples to be married before they could share a public housing home, but that is no longer the case.

Regardless of the structure of a household utilizing Public Housing, all income must be reported and tenants must meet eligibility guidelines. Those in violation are reported to the Office of the Investigator General.

Another proposed change to Public Housing’s policies would added definitions for a “Near-Elderly Person.” This definition reads, “A person who is at least 50 years old, but below the age of 62, who may be a person with a disability.”

A “Near-Elderly Family,” another new distinction in Public Housing, will be defined as “A family whose head (including co-head), spouse, or sole member who is at least 50 years of age, but below the age of 62; or two or more persons, who are at least 50 years of age, but below the age of 62, living together; or one or more persons who are at least 50 years of age, but below the age of 62, living with one or more live-in aides.”

Written comments regarding these changes will be accepted through May 20 at 4:30 p.m. Copies are available at the Public Housing Office, 305 South Third, Knoxville.

Other Public Housing notes:

• Adopted policies regarding bloodborne pathogens and chemical hazard communications. Training was held for staff, led by members of the Knoxville Fire/Rescue Department.

• Public comment will also be sought regarding changes to transfers and reporting assets of less than $5,000 and accompanying income. The transfer policy would allow a family considered to be “over-housed,” or in a home too large for the people in the household, to have first claim on an open home, which would be a better fit, over another family. The other reflects a change in HUD’s policy, which allows families to “self-certify” their income when applying for Public Housing assistance.

• Approved monthly financial reports.

• Members of the Public Housing Board include Teresa Higginbotham, Dick Young, Jodi Mansueto (absent from Monday’s meeting), Don Croghan and Jim Morgan.