National Communities of Quality Recognition Program
NAHMA Communities of Quality (COQ) Webinar – How to Apply: For a quick and easy-to-follow instruction of the NAHMA COQ application, please review the COQ Made Easy video and the COQ Application Preliminary Checklist.
NAHMA Communities of Quality (COQ) Program Overview Flowchart: For a quick and easy-to-follow overview of the NAHMA COQ program, please click here for the COQ Application Flowchart.
*NAHMA will only accept electronic submissions of the COQ application. Please refer to Electronic Submissions Guidelines below for instructions on submitting an electronic application. Please email Paulette Washington at NAHMA with any questions you may have.
- COQ National Recognition Program Application (revised 2022) (Form date Sept. 2022)
- COQ Application Preliminary Checklist
- COQ Webinar: How to Apply (Video)
- COQ Electronic Submissions Guidelines
- COQ Application Invoice
- COQ Renewal Application (Form date June 2020)
- COQ Frequently Asked Questions – Application Process
- COQ Awards Program participation requirements
- COQ Corporate Partner Designation
- COQ National Recognition and Awards Program Appeals and Complaint Procedures
- For COQ Program Participants: COQ Trademark Usage Guidelines
COQ Recognition Program for Outstanding Affordable Multifamily Properties
National Communities of Quality® Certification Raises the Bar for Housing Industry
The National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) provides a certification program that recognizes the outstanding achievements of property managers and owners who provide high-quality, affordable multifamily rental housing.
Through the Communities of Quality® (COQ) National Recognition program, multifamily properties can be certified as having achieved a high standard of excellence in the way they are managed, the services they provide residents, the experience and training of personnel, and other criteria.
NAHMA created the COQ National Recognition program as a way to acknowledge a company that provides the highest-quality affordable housing to lower-income residents while adding value to its larger community. “Housing for low- and moderate-income families is often a great asset to communities, especially when it offers services – such as computer learning centers or senior centers – that provide valuable support and enrichment to the lives of residents,” said NAHMA’s past president, Michelle Norris, NAHP-e, SHCM.
Any property manager or owner of affordable multifamily rental housing in the U.S. can apply for COQ National Recognition at any time during the year. Applicants’ properties receive scores for Physical Inspections; Employee Credentials; Financial Management; Programs and Services; Endorsements; and Photographs and Reports. Applicants must score a minimum of 225 points in these categories to receive COQ certification (200 points for properties with 49 units or less). Properties that score more than 325 points are automatically eligible to compete in NAHMA’s prestigious, Communities of Quality Awards competition. All entrants to the COQ Awards competition must achieve National Recognition status. COQ Awards are presented in March of each year, at NAHMA’s annual winter meeting. More details are provided via the links above, and the information below.
COQ National Recognition and Awards Categories
Property management companies can apply for COQ National Recognition at any time.
Applications are judged by NAHMA and given points based on six criteria:
- Financial Management
- Employee Credentials
- Programs and Services
- Photographs and Reports
Properties that meet a predetermined point total (225 points, or 200 points for properties with 49 units or less; see application linked above) are recognized as a Community of Quality and assisted in marketing this designation.
Properties that score above a designated point total are encouraged to participate in the annual COQ Awards Competition. This prestigious competition helps create a consistent message across the country about what quality affordable housing is. Award winners are provided materials to assist in conducting a public relations campaign touting their achievements. They also are honored at NAHMA’s annual Winter meeting and are included in information NAHMA disseminates about best practices in the industry.
COQ Awards are offered for the following five categories:
- Exemplary Family Development
- Exemplary Development for the Elderly
- Exemplary Development for Residents with Special Needs
- Exemplary Development for Single Room Occupancy Housing
- Outstanding Turnaround of a Troubled Property
Becoming a Communities of Quality Award winner remains the symbol of accomplishment in the affordable housing industry.
National Recognition Application Process
Who may apply: Affordable multi-family rental housing properties are invited to apply for National Recognition as a NAHMA Community of Quality any time during the calendar year, by submitting an application to a state, local or regional Affordable Housing Management Association (AHMA). To find a local AHMA, view the map here.
“Affordable” is defined as a property participating in a government funded, insured or otherwise sponsored program that results in rents that are below market-rate housing. At least half of the property must contain affordable units for the entire property to be considered affordable.
Where to Apply: Properties submit COQ National Recognition program applications to the closest (geographically) AHMA to the property, along with a registration fee. Applications must be in electronic format – (please see the COQ Electronic Submission Guidelines linked above). The AHMA reviews the application to ensure it is complete (and requests additional information from the property if needed). The AHMA forwards the reviewed application electronically to NAHMA. In reviewing the applications, the AHMAs abide by confidentiality, conflict of interest, and other standards of conduct established for the program.
Application Review: NAHMA reviews the application and determines whether it meets the established Community of Quality National Recognition criteria. Properties that meet the criteria are entered into a COQ program database and receive the following benefits:
- A congratulations letter and certificate
- A draft press release for use with local media
- A free subscription to NAHMA News (a $100 value)
- A listing under the National Registry of Communities of Quality on NAHMA’s website
- Access to a Digital Smart Badge to highlight your accomplishment (see separate section below)
Properties not meeting the criteria receive a letter encouraging them to try again, with recommendations on areas on which they should focus.
Registration Fee: The registration fee is $150 per property for members of the submitting AHMA, and $325 per property for non-members of the AHMA.
Recognition Renewals: National Recognition as a Community of Quality is valid for two years only. Program participants will be invited by NAHMA to renew their application every two years (notices are sent in the summer), and pay a renewal fee to maintain their ongoing benefits (per above). Properties that continue to meet the COQ criteria will have their records updated in the COQ program database and will be notified that their COQ designation is valid for another two years. The renewal fee is $100 per property for members of NAHMA or an AHMA, and $225 for non-members.
From Recognition to Award
Properties that apply for the National Recognition program and that meet a designated point total (325 points) automatically qualify to participate (free) in the next annual COQ Awards competition to be held by its AHMA and NAHMA.
The property owner or manager is notified and asked to provide any additional awards program materials that might be needed for the judging process. COQ Awards are made in each of the five categories listed earlier.
Properties that receive both National Recognition and a COQ Award receive all of the benefits listed above. In addition, they receive:
- Recognition at an AHMA awards ceremony
- Recognition at NAHMA’s annual COQ luncheon
- A crystal award
- Inclusion in a press release distributed by NAHMA to national media and trade press
- Inclusion in a detailed article on award winners in NAHMA News
- Free copy of the Best Practices report developed based on analysis of award winners
NAHMA sends applications for the COQ Awards competition to eligible Recognition Award winners.
For more information about the National Recognition Program or the COQ Awards, please contact NAHMA staff member Paulette Washington.
COQ Property Digital Smart Badges
Participants in NAHMA’s COQ National Recognition program may highlight their accomplishments through the use of Digital Smart Badges on their properties’ websites, enabling web visitors to see, and validate, their COQ national recognition status through a simple “click and verify” process. This allows visitors to trust that they are actually viewing the website of a NAHMA recognized COQ participant. When a website visitor clicks on one of the COQ Smart Badges, they will be seamlessly directed to a page on the NAHMA website, which will instantly validate the COQ status of the property. Once this is complete, the visitor can return to the property website by a simple click from the verification page. In addition to the “click and verify” aspect of the Digital Smart Badges, each badge also contains a dynamic date, so that the current date is always reflected on the Smart Badge – again allowing visitors to trust that the certification they are viewing is currently in effect. And most importantly, the Digital Smart Badges can’t be copied by unauthorized users and placed on unapproved websites, since it takes a two-step process administered through NAHMA for the Smart Badge verification process to work.
For more details on the COQ Nationally Recognized Property Smart Badge program, click on the following links:
- For COQ Nationally Recognized Properties:
- NAHMA Smart Badge User Guide for COQ Nationally Recognized Properties
- Matrix to provide your website addresses for using NAHMA’s COQ Digital Smart Badges – for COQ Recognized Properties
- For COQ Corporate Partners:
- NAHMA Smart Badge User Guide for COQ Corporate Partners
- Matrix to provide your website addresses for using NAHMA’s COQ Digital Smart Badges – for Corporate Partners
- Examples of COQ Smart Badges in use:
–Corporate Partner Digital Smart Badge (for your management company homepage): www.metapts.com (scroll to the bottom of the page)
–COQ Property Digital Smart Badge (for each of your COQ property webpages) https://www.metapts.com/_Evergreen-Square
(Also on these webpages, please click on the badges to see the verification page that pops up.)
- Important Notes:
–The Corporate Partner Digital Smart Badge may only be used by management companies designated by NAHMA as COQ Corporate Partners, and is available to these companies for free.
–The COQ Property Digital Smart Badge may be used on the webpage of any Nationally Recognized COQ Property, and is available for free for the first year (thereafter, a nominal fee of $15 for digital badge administration will be charged to properties that are not Corporate Partner properties). Corporate Partner COQ properties may always use the COQ Property Smart Badge for free.
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Disclaimer: Properties that meet the COQ National Recognition criteria may hold themselves forth to the public as such. However, NAHMA and the AHMAs do not assume and hereby disclaim any and all liability to any person or entity for any claims, damages, liability or other loss including, without limitation, any liability for injury or other damage resulting from any use of or reliance on the information provided through the COQ National Recognition and Awards Program. NAHMA and the AHMAs do not make any express or implied warranties, representations or endorsements whatsoever, or in any way, regarding the properties listed as COQ National Recognition or Award Winners.