Simplifying Compliance

By on Sep 28, 2020 in News, People

How do you reduce the costs of compliance such that affordable housing properties are more attractive to investors, easier for residents to find and qualify for, and less expensive to manage?

That’s a question Chris Voss has spent the better part of 20 years answering, and he may just be on to the solution.

Chris is Yardi’s vice president of affordable housing and PHA Sales and is the founder or RightSource, the newest addition to the Yardi family.

Chris Voss

A natural entrepreneur, Chris attended college on the east coast and focused his studies on economics. While there, Chris did some web development work for members of congress, an experience that helped grow his familiarity with emerging online technology.

After college, Chris was hired by a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. that supported affordable housing developers and operators. Like many affordable housing professionals, Chris found himself unexpectedly in the industry, but soon realized a passion for its mission and processes.

“I joke that growing up I wanted to be a doctor right up to the point that I realized I probably wasn’t patient enough to complete four years of medical school. However, my career does give me some of the experience I was looking for. I’m able to help clients realize their long-term operational goals by diagnosing their challenges and solving them with improvements to technology, processes, and people. So, while I’ve come to terms with not actually becoming a doctor, I have the sense of purpose and fulfilment of helping affordable housing organizations operate with a greater sense of health,” says Voss.

The sole focus of the consulting firm Chris worked for in the early 2000’s was support of clients implementing Yardi Voyager. Chris describes his consulting career as a deep dive into affordable housing technology, property management and compliance that gave him unique insight into the industry. In his consulting role, Chris led more than 300 implementations of Voyager. That solid Yardi foundation would prove valuable later, and gave Chris extensive knowledge of the needs of affordable housing organizations.

“I learned that affordable housing is much more complicated and expensive to operate than market rate housing. My clients wanted to mitigate those costs by doing things like outsourcing compliance tasks and automating forms and reporting processes, but those types of service weren’t readily available. I spent nights and weekends thinking through these problems, and in 2006, the idea of RightSource was born,” says Voss.

Chris created a business plan and operating model for RightSource with the knowledge and practical experience he received at Georgetown obtaining his MBA. He spent a lot of time listening to affordable housing providers to learn more about their needs. As he discussed his plans for RightSource, the response from his clients confirmed the potential viability of his plan to launch his compliance service business.

“My vision for RightSource was to reduce the cost and complexity of affordable housing compliance. It’s a challenge because affordable housing rents are restricted, so revenue is not something that can be raised by methods other than minimizing unit days vacant. It’s also a challenge because affordable housing properties require a team of employees dedicated to compliance oversight. Some of my clients reported that 30% of their on-site staff time was spent working on things like income certifications and other compliance-related tasks. My proposed business model would take on those compliance tasks and free up site staff to better serve residents,” says Voss.

In 2007, RightSource officially kicked off its compliance service. Chris moved back to his home state of Minnesota to grow the company, and soon discovered a need for his business to be scalable to meet the needs of a varied client base. Some clients just wanted file audit services, a process that at the time relied on resources such as fax machines and documents sent to PO boxes. Others required staff training and consulting services for operational improvements.

To address those needs, RightSource began to support clients with consulting practices such as implementing Yardi Voyager and maintaining compliance forms for affordable housing properties. RightSource also spent 2013 investing in a new endeavor called Housing Academy. Housing Academy took advantage of new web technology to deliver compliance training classes on demand for clients and newly hired RightSource employees.

“With the addition of our consulting team and Housing Academy, RightSource became a complete suite of affordable housing compliance solutions. But, with new technologies came opportunities for our clients to get more from their investment in RightSource as we developed new ways to streamline our services,” says Voss.

By the end of 2016, RightSource had created a proprietary software solution that replaced the need for clients to send paper forms and faxes for processing. RightSource’s software provided digital access to everything necessary for staff to audit files and document compliance with all applicable affordable requirements.

The Move to Yardi

RightSource transitioned to the Yardi corporate structure in early 2020. Chris describes the relationship between RightSource and Yardi as like peanut butter and jelly: truly complementary in the combined effort to make compliance less of a burden for millions of affordable units.

“I’ve always been grateful for having a strong team that has helped make the vision of RightSource a reality, it’s never been something I thought I could do on my own. RightSource’s shift into the Yardi family has made the team even stronger and puts us and our clients in a great position to succeed,” says Voss.

With the addition of the RightSource software and team, the Yardi Affordable Housing Suite is a complete and unified solution. Data flows seamlessly from RentCafe Affordable Housing to Yardi RightSource and Yardi Voyager, creating efficiencies for applicants, residents and staff at every turn. The curriculum of Housing Academy is being added into Yardi Aspire, the comprehensive learning management platform.

Affordable housing providers who opt for the complete Yardi suite have a great opportunity to reduce their compliance costs and days vacant by qualifying households faster. Households log on to RentCafe Affordable Housing to create a profile, sign up for a waiting list, find a unit and submit their application. The entire process is online, self-service and consistent for everyone. That data is then sent to Yardi RightSource for review of eligibility and then automatically delivered to Yardi Voyager.

Learn how Yardi RightSource and the full Yardi Affordable Housing Suite can help you transform the way your organization fulfills its compliance mandates by logging on to Current Yardi Voyager clients can view a free webinar here. Public housing agencies can also look forward to new Yardi RightSource features currently in development.