The Housing Choice Voucher program was created with the goal of creating affordable housing for everyone who needs it. Over 5.3 million Americans and 2.62 million households currently benefit from this program, comprising about 1.6% of the total population.
However, efficiency in these programs, or the lack thereof, can be a major roadblock for teams trying to help as many people as possible.
From spending hours searching for and entering data, trying to piece together the full story from disparate sources, and dealing with frustrated tenants and landlords, it’s clear that there is plenty of room to optimize.
And at the root of these problems is a lack of technology.
Lagging on technological innovation not only loads HCV teams up with piles of tedious and difficult tasks. It also impacts the fulfillment that they get out of work and their ability to foster relationships with the rest of their team.
The Right Tools and Proper Training
The good news is that even small-scale technology implementations make a significant impact on Housing Choice Vouchers teams’ ability to deliver meaningful results.
At a high level, when selecting implementation to boost efficiency, you should look for a tool with:
- The ability to automate tedious tasks
- Short implementation time
- Ease of use that makes it possible to quickly train staff
- A support team with excellent customer service and an understanding of your core needs
When it comes to technology in the housing choice vouchers space, there are several other must-haves that you should check out.
To streamline your backend operations, you’ll want to ensure that you find a tool that gives you the ability to visualize your program data quickly and in a dashboard format. You’ll also want to make sure that the tool can help you easily view landlord and tenant data quickly and easily.
Both capabilities prevent teams from having to search for data in several disparate locations.
To boost efficiency on both the front and the back end, you’ll also want a tool that gives tenants self-service abilities, allowing them to easily sign up for information and complete next steps online. This saves tenants and HCV teams from having to deal with antiquated submission systems, or even pen-and-paper methods in the mail.
When you select the tools to implement, you’ll also want to invest time into sufficiently training staff on how to best use them. Technology at this scale often comes with a heavy price tag, so you’ll want to make sure the investment doesn’t go to waste. Proactively generate buy-in from all team members and create power users out of your staff.
Neighborly Software’s HCV platform checks all these boxes.
Areas Where Technology Can Boost Your Efficiency
Implementing technology in a government organization can often leave you with many potential focus areas, due to the longstanding lack of technology. Like with any other operational change that your organization makes, it’s wise to focus on the most high-opportunity areas first.
In Housing Choice Voucher Programs, the following areas are ripe for a boost in efficiency, so any (or all) of the following areas would be prime candidate to gear your technological innovation towards.
The waitlist process is a grueling one – both for recipients and HCV teams. It’s filled with long waiting periods and complex criteria for how people move up the waitlist. In some jurisdictions, tenants can be waiting for up to 5 years.
Many teams need to use rudimentary technology or manually created excel sheets to keep track of the waitlist management process. This leaves team members with an intimidating amount of constantly evolving data to try to sort through. When you consider the prioritizing preferences, another layer of complexity and more opportunities for errors to be made when doing it manually are introduced.
The journey from pre-application to application processing, selecting recipients, and purging tenants, involves multiple manual steps.
However, technology can simplify and automate this process. Online enrollment reduces data entry time, and automated workflows handle complex approval criteria. These technologies create more reliable systems and reduce the time spent on administrative tasks.
Reporting should be one of the most fulfilling parts of the process for team members involved in housing choice voucher programs. But instead, it’s rife with inefficiencies and one of the main barriers to being able to see the impact that these programs are having.
In all areas of HCV programs, reporting is a necessity for compliance and operational purposes. For managers, some reporting is needed daily.
For a visual of how many reports these teams need to pull on a regular basis, here’s a start:
- Voucher issuance
- Request for tenant approval process
- Program moves
- Error corrections
Now imagine having to pull all these reports from separate data sources that could be housed anywhere from emails to Excel sheets to word documents; it’s enough to make your head spin.
With the right technology, you can centralize all relevant data in one place, drastically reducing the time required for reporting. This allows teams to quickly access reliable data and create custom dashboards of important reports.
Efficient reporting helps teams stay compliant, make informed decisions, and gauge their performance.
Crafting the Story for Your Executives and Board Members
Much like the pain point of reporting, pulling together a cohesive story of the work that your housing choice vouchers program is doing is heavily inhibited by scattered data.
Typically, teams must pull together large amounts of data and manually create dashboard reports monthly. The goal is to give leadership insight into what is and isn’t working to guide future decision making.
Issues often emerge when unreliable data hinders the ability to draw coherent insights, turning a potential opportunity for storytelling, innovation, and team morale into a headache.
Fortunately, the same technology that streamlines HCV reporting also offers data visualization. This transforms board reporting into a reliable, interactive experience for stakeholders.
Better Efficiency Means Better Change
As the nation grapples with post-COVID changes as well as economic uncertainty, the need for more affordable housing has only grown in the last few years. At the same time, the PHA industry has been hit with high staff turnover, legal and compliance issues, and expensive capital repairs.
It’s become clear to many decision makers that technology needs to step in and take over the most cumbersome workload, allowing understaffed teams to maintain focus on the work that matters. In other words, technology can empower communities to keep helping people.
Neighborly Software is designed to ease HCV management challenges. It enhances your team’s productivity and reliability and streamlines tasks from reporting and payment processing to waitlist management, providing a modern platform for your vital data and workflows. Leave the clunky and outdated software behind and give your team – and your tenants – a simple and reliable solution. Find out what our platform can do for you.