The Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO) serves residents of the City and County of San Luis Obispo, California, overseeing public and affordable housing subsidies. HASLO manages subsidies including Low Income Housing Tax Credit, HUD 50058 and 50059, and HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing.
The documentation required for a household to qualify for subsidized housing is daunting. Like all PHAs, HASLO faces the challenge of collecting all the necessary data to meet its compliance mandates. In the past, paper forms and photocopied documents served this purpose. HASLO sought a digital solution to keep in compliance with their funding sources and eliminate handling and storing mountains of paperwork.
With RENTCafé PHA, HASLO can process hundreds of applications online during each application cycle. By taking its applications online, HASLO has successfully reduced its paperwork burden.
Taking Applications Online
HASLO began to transform its paper-based housing application processes with RENTCafé PHA in 2014. The PHA saw fast results. “We were so excited when we saw live applications in RENTCafé PHA. All of the documentation was there, including birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and social security documents without a stack of paper to go through,” said Elaine Archer, director of housing management for HASLO.
A big part of that transformation is how HASLO maintains its waiting list. Save My Spot is a waitlist management tool embedded in RENTCafé PHA. Save My Spot makes it simple to communicate with waitlisted households. PHAs can use Save My Spot to ask people on the waitlist to log in and confirm their status. Those who are no longer seeking housing assistance can remove themselves from the PHA waiting list.
“It’s almost too easy for users. We’ll sometimes get phone calls asking if the simple, online app is really all that is necessary to confirm a spot on our waiting list,” said Archer.
Archer says Save My Spot makes it feasible for HASLO to update its waiting list every six months, a pace rarely possible using past methods.
“We even gain digital efficiency when processing names on our waiting list without an email address. Save My Spot sends those households a letter printed with a barcode. When those barcodes come back, we can scan them and quickly get to their record in Yardi Voyager. That innovation saves us 10-15 clicks per household, which adds up to a lot of time,” said Archer. RENTCafé PHA has automation features that go beyond the waitlisting phase. For example, it automatically checks for errors as applicants submit their information, which helps HASLO receive more complete files that are easier to process. “One family was able to move into a unit just a week or two after creating their RENTCafé PHA profile and completing their application online,” said Archer.
HASLO has also upgraded to Yardi Voyager PHA 7S and is taking advantage of new features and benefits. “Replacing our old system with Yardi Voyager brought us into the 21st century. PHAs need to be able to document every detail associated with their subsidies. Voyager gives us the data we need to tell our funding sources exactly what the local needs are and how subsidies will be used to create affordable housing opportunities for our community,” said Archer.