The mission of the Fort Smith Housing Authority (FSHA) is to develop, rehabilitate and manage decent, safe and sanitary affordable housing. FSHA promotes equal opportunity, fair housing initiatives and the deconcentration of race and poverty.
An Industry in Transition
The PHA industry continues to change as policies evolve to best serve community members needing housing assistance. In turn, public housing agencies across the country, including FSHA, have evolved their housing strategies. Repurposing outdated public housing units by rehabbing dilapidated properties and creating new housing subsidies has become a successful model for many PHAs. FSHA needed a software platform to help make such endeavors successful for housing providers and residents.
Yardi Voyager PHA
Yardi Voyager PHA supports entire organizations on a single software platform with comprehensive functionality. PHAs gain expertly crafted workflows for operations, finance, maintenance management and subsidy compliance. The Yardi PHA Suite provides seamless, efficient solutions for paperless applicant certifications, payment processing, resident screening, landlord communications and more.
An Upward Growth Trend
Rachel Brown, Section 8 director, began working at FSHA in 2002. Over time, she has witnessed significant growth in the number of units under management and increased complexity around creating new housing resources. During that period of change, FSHA transitioned from an early version of Yardi’s platform to the more advanced Yardi Voyager PHA platform and used the added functionality to track new housing efforts and maintain continuity.
FSHA’s development efforts now include building Low-Income Housing Tax Credit units, rehabbing dilapidated housing for sale to low- and moderate-income families, and exploring new ways to provide affordable housing that meets the needs of the community.
“When I first started FSHA, we had about 450 public housing units and less than 1,200 vouchers. Today, we have more than 1,600 vouchers under our management, transitioned 288 Public Housing units through the RAD program, and replaced 170 public housing units with the help of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits,” said Brown.
Technology played a role in FSHA’s growth. “Yardi Voyager PHA helps us keep up with evolving policies, which is wonderful. HUD changes things so often, and when they do, Yardi gets right on it with a plug-in or update to make new processes easy to master,” said Brown.
One example of how Yardi helped FSHA improved internal processes is voucher portability. According to Brown, FSHA staff used to dread the process of working with housing choice vouchers originally issued by another public housing agency. “Voyager makes it so much easier to work with vouchers from other areas. We just fill out a couple of tabs in Voyager, add the HUD Form 52665 and follow-up information, and boom, you’re done,” said Brown.
FSHA also credits Yardi support staff as a valuable resource. “I can’t give them enough kudos. They are spot on, all the time. Whether it’s on the phone, by email or live assistance through a remote connection to our computer desktops, Yardi support is very responsive. I love that about Yardi,” said Brown.
Brown says the real ‘wow’ moments of her career at FSHA happen when she sees people’s lives change for the better. “Some clients are single parents, others are going to school or raising a family. It’s inspiring when they enter our Family Self-Sufficiency program, graduate and go on to buy a home or start their own business. Seeing their lives evolve and change for the better is what our housing authority programs are all about. We are making a difference,” said Brown.