Save My Spot

By on Aug 22, 2018 in News, People

Demand for public housing assistance far outweighs the available supply in nearly every community nationwide, but the challenges can be especially great in California.

The Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO) and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara (HACSB) are prime examples of public housing agencies challenged with creating housing opportunities for low-income residents.

There is never a slow work day for HASLO or HACSB, and the mere opportunity to join a housing assistance waiting list can create a frenzy of activity.

“The vitality of every community is dependent on housing that is attainable for all income levels, and public housing agencies add incredible value to the regions they serve. The magnitude of their waiting lists, nationwide, is a great demonstration of the scarcity and value of affordable housing,” said Boone Atkins, vice president of affordable housing and PHA sales for Yardi.

A PHA waiting list includes households seeking public housing units, housing choice vouchers and affordable housing. Given the local market conditions, those lists would grow daily if the HASLO and HACSB kept lists open to new names permanently.

However, closing waiting lists to new households is just one way to keep the lists under control. Another way to maintain PHA waiting lists is periodically purging the names of households who are no longer seeking assistance.

Purging PHA waiting lists has historically been a labor intensive process requiring envelope stuffing and data entry. PHAs also incurred costs for postage and paper to facilitate mailing forms to thousands of waitlisted households.

RENTCafé PHA, and its embedded Save My Spot waitlist management feature, can mitigate those costs. Yardi is the only PHA software provider offering a modernized waitlist management solution, bringing relief to a longstanding industry issue.

A Primer on RentCafe PHA

Public housing agencies use RentCafe PHA to work online with housing applicants, residents and landlords. It replaces paperwork and office visits with convenient web-based transactions.

Households can sign up for a waiting list, submit applications, complete eligibility forms, upload documentation and more, all from a personal computer or mobile device. Once a public housing applicant becomes a resident, they can use their RENTCafé PHA login to pay rent, request maintenance, schedule inspections and more.

Save My Spot in Action

Among the first public housing agencies to implement Save My Spot was the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO). HASLO Director of Housing Management Elaine 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.

“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 describes her former methods as a labor intensive series of tasks including letter writing, printing, mailing and data entry. All of those steps are streamlined with Save My Spot.

“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.

Similar Results in Santa Barbara County

HACSB opened its waiting list in the spring of 2018, which was a newsworthy event since it hadn’t been open to new names in more than eight years. Prior to opening the waiting list, HACSB felt it was necessary to ask those households currently on the list to verify their status and confirm desired housing assistance. Onerous

“Because it had been so long since we opened the list, and we hadn’t selected anyone from it in more than two years, there was a lot of old information,” said Juan Garcia, Information Systems Administrator for HACSB.

HACSB found that over the years, many households had moved from the area, had a change in income, or had found suitable housing on their own. HACSB used Save My Spot to purge those names from their list by asking households to verify status either through email or in the mail with barcoded forms to complete.

“We purged nearly 40% of the names from our waiting list in a matter of days – without having to mail a form to everyone on the list,” said Bob Havlicek, executive director for HACSB.

HACSB added 8,000 new households to its waiting list during the three week open period. Purging the list beforehand made the process much more efficient and manageable.

Contact Yardi sales at 800-866-1144 for more information about RentCafe PHA, or go online to