Getting the Job Done

By on Jun 22, 2020 in News

Public housing agencies across the country are open for business, even when their physical offices are closed. Their services and resources are literally vital to the health, safety and welfare of millions of Americans.

How do they make it work?

Image courtesy Hagerstown Housing Authority

Hagerstown Housing Authority (HHA), which serves the city of Hagerstown in Maryland, uses specialized software solutions from Yardi that connect their staff to critical workflows that serve waitlisted households, applicants, participants and residents, and landlords.

“The coronavirus is an awful situation, of course, but it has given us an opportunity to help our staff realize the benefits of cloud-based software, as well as online solutions for our applicants and residents,” says Sean Griffith, executive director for HHA.

HHA has been serving its residents for more than 65 years. As a high-performing housing authority, as distinguished by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HHA owns and/or oversees 1,320 dwelling units in 11 communities and more than 900 Housing Choice Vouchers for use by residents who do not dwell in HHA-owned properties. Approximately 12% of the city’s residents are assisted by HHA housing resources.

The waiting list for housing assistance from HHA grows daily as economic variables affect local residents. “There has been a definite uptick in need for housing assistance. Our properties are in demand, and the waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers is growing,” says Griffith.

Using RENTCafé PHA, HHA makes it possible for interested households to place themselves on its waiting list. The process is handled completely online without the need for an office visit. That feature is particularly timely for HHA given the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency went live with the Yardi PHA suite in the spring of 2019 and considers cloud functionality one of the most important features offered. Griffith notes that remote employees are able to do what they need to do to perform their jobs without working in the office.

Current residents have also received benefits of connecting remotely with HHA. Since mandatory stay at home measures have been in place, residents have used RENTCafé PHA to complete their annual recertifications online. User feedback has been positive, according to HHA, as users have successfully filled out forms, signed them electronically and sent them in for HHA review. HHA staff have expressed appreciation of receiving resident data digitally, as opposed to handwritten forms that are often difficult to read.

In addition to cloud-based efficiency and convenience, HHA gained a valuable benefit by implementing Yardi Voyager PHA last year. Now all departments, including accounting, are on a centralized operating platform saving time and money

“In the past we were running several instances of the software, as well as a separate system for accounting, to accommodate our mixed portfolio of affordable housing properties. Voyager puts everything at our fingertips without excess logins or software licenses,” says Griffith.

The upgrade to Voyager has benefitted residents by enabling HHA to accept online payments. By providing online access to resident accounts, using Yardi Payment Processing, HHA residents can go online to check the status of their account. It’s also helped HHA residents experiencing job losses or other economic flux due to the pandemic, the ability to login and complete interim recertifications.

Consistently ranked as a high performing housing agency, maintaining the continuum of compliance is important to HHA. “We know how compliance works and have had success in the past with complicated mandates. Yardi’s software makes us a more efficient. For example, the subtle notifications that advise users when a piece of data is missing, or a step has not been completed. That type of feedback helps us see right away when there is something to correct,” says Griffith.

HHA has also implemented Yardi software for purchase orders, budgeting and forecasting, document management, resident screening and more. “I’m not sure how we’d be operating during this time of uncertainty if we hadn’t migrated to the Voyager platform and included RENTCafé PHA ,” says Griffith.

Is your organization looking for ways to make remote employees more connected and effective on the job? Log on to yardi.com/pha and start learning how Yardi software can help.