Affordable Housing News

The 2016 NMA Customer Satisfaction Survey

Posted by NMA on Nov 3, 2016 11:54:31 AM

If you haven't taken it yet, we would like to invite you to participate in the annual NMA Customer Satisfaction Survey. It’s very short, and only takes a minute or two to complete.

Please take a moment to share your feedback and let us know how we can better serve your needs in the future.

Take the customer satisfaction survey now!

And in case you missed the announcement, our annual year-end sale is currently underway. Save 20% on all Q1 NMA-hosted classes, including upcoming sessions of popular classes like Public Housing Management (PHM), HCV and Public Housing Rent Calculation, HCV Housing Quality Standards (HQS), and HCV Specialist.

Visit our online seminar calendar to see more upcoming classes. All sessions January thorough March without an asterisk are 20% off before January 1, 2017! Contact sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: customer service, HQS, Program News and Notices, public housing management, rent calculation

The 2015 NMA Customer Satisfaction Survey

Posted by NMA on Dec 3, 2015 10:46:02 AM

This is it! Your last chance to take the annual NMA Customer Satisfaction Survey. It’s very short, and only takes a minute or two to complete.

Please take a moment to share your feedback and let us know how we can better serve your needs in the future.

Take the customer satisfaction survey now!

In other news, our annual year-end sale is currently underway. Save 20% on all Q1 NMA-hosted classes, including upcoming sessions of our popular new RAD PBV class in Denver, CO and Indianapolis, IN.

Visit our online seminar calendar to see more upcoming classes. All sessions January thorough March without an asterisk are 20% off before January 1, 2016! Contact sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: customer service, PBV, Program News and Notices, RAD

PIH updates guidance on privacy protection

Posted by BEMuser on Apr 24, 2015 12:12:55 PM

Social Security cardsLate yesterday HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2015-06 to provide guidance on safeguarding personally identifiable information. The notice, which revises Notice PIH 2014-10, defines personally identifiable information, or PII, as follows:

Information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as his/her name, social security number, biometric records, etc., alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.

The notice begins by stating that HUD expects all of its third-party business partners, including PHAs, to safeguard the PII that they collect in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and other federal, state, and local laws that regulate the treatment of this information. After citing basic requirements for protecting PII and listing sources of federal guidance on the subject, the notice goes on to enumerate the rules that PHAs should follow to ensure compliance with these requirements. The notice also contains new guidance to assist PHA system administrators and users to fulfill their requirements for information technology security awareness training.

To stay updated on the latest program information, subscribe to the PIH Alert and receive a daily email with news and analysis for PHAs and housing professionals.

Topics: customer service, PIH Alert, Program News and Notices

The 2014 NMA Customer Satisfaction Survey

Posted by BEMuser on Oct 1, 2014 10:25:28 AM

Our annual NMA Customer Satisfaction Survey is now open for your feedback. We encourage you to take the survey — it’s quite brief, and it’s an invaluable tool to help us better serve your needs in the future.

Take the survey now!

The survey is very short, and only takes a minute or two to complete.

Please take a moment to share your feedback and let us know how we can make your NMA experience even better!

Topics: customer service, Program News and Notices

MTW Panel Session

Posted by BEMuser on Jul 8, 2014 9:57:40 AM

NMA vice president of professional services Carrol Vaughan, presenting a session on RAD at last year's NMA Housing Conference NMA vice president of professional services Carrol Vaughan, presenting a session at last year's NMA Housing Conference

Carrol Vaughan, NMA's vice president of professional services, will be moderating several sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference, including this one and RAD: How It's Really Working.

Executive Leadership for Performance Excellence

MTW Panel Session
Moderator, Carrol Vaughan
Richard Gentry, President and CEO, San Diego Housing Commission

One of the primary goals of the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration program is that agencies become more administratively efficient. While non-MTW agencies don't have the flexibility of regulatory waivers, there are numerous other options for streamlining processes and enhancing operations that can lead to lower costs and improved customer service. This panel includes executives from both MTW agencies and non-MTW agencies who will discuss several ideas your agency may consider as we continue to find ways to serve our communities with the continual decrease in funding.

Carrol and other industry experts will be available for limited free one-hour consulting sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference. Registered participants can sign up on a first-come, first-served basis starting next week. Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: budget cuts, customer service, Executive Team, GoSection8, MTW, The Housing Conference

How to run a successful VASH program: Tip #5

Posted by BEMuser on Feb 5, 2014 12:26:15 PM

Cydney JonesTip #5: Communicate often.

While the secret of buying real estate is location, location, location, the secret of a great VASH program is communication, communication, communication. As HUD policy and funding changes, caseworkers turn over, and tenants have leasing disputes, it's critical that all partners maintain open and frequent communication. Some tips for keeping the lines of communication open:

➤  Meet often. Ensure that the VA and PHA have regular meetings that include not just senior-level managers but also housing specialists, caseworkers, and a landlord or community liaison. A diverse group of involved parties will provide valuable input toward improving the lives of your veterans.

➤  Designate one point of contact. Great VASH programs have one designated person to respond to the VASH clients, owners, and caseworkers. Incorporating a VASH hotline phone number or designated email address can work wonders. Centralizing this function with someone who's knowledgeable about the VASH program and landlords' needs, who is adept at managing conflict, and who has good negotiation and customer service skills can greatly help resolve a concern before it escalates into a bigger problem. Responsiveness is paramount to great customer service.

➤  Mediate. Have staff who can intervene in a timely fashion when there are lease violations. Remember, there are always two sides to any story; sometimes, mediation may involve helping veterans with legal assistance if their rights have been violated.

➤  Conduct home visits. Great VASH programs do offer individualized levels of support to veterans based on their needs. However, successful VASH programs also have staff, mostly VA caseworkers, who proactively conduct home visits to identify and prevent future tenancy concerns.

➤  Get feedback and monitor performance. Survey landlords, VA partners, and staff to solicit feedback and recommendations for improvement. Track VASH leasing progress with HUD's two-year forecasting tool or a similar method to identify trends in leasing so you can keep doing what's working, and modify and amend your policies for what's not.

By incorporating some of these best practices, your VASH program will surely increase its potential of being hugely successful.

With an exceptional knowledge of HUD regulations, NMA senior trainer and consultant Cydney Jones is expert in providing a wide range of technical assistance, management training, and on-site expertise for multifamily assisted programs and the HCV program. Ms. Jones recently headed operations for NMA’s contract with one of the largest public housing authorities in the country, including administration of VASH vouchers.

Nan McKay and Associates has assisted a number of agencies across the country with their VASH voucher programs and can leverage that experience to help your PHA be more successful. For information, contact sales@nanmckay.com.

Topics: customer service, Trainers and Consultants, VASH, veterans

Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #5

Posted by NMA on Apr 18, 2013 10:02:34 AM

Cara GilletteAs we know, public housing funding for April is at a 73% proration level. HUD plans to issue a second funding to bring the April proration level up to 79%.

The business of owning and managing affordable housing in decent, safe, and sanitary condition and in good repair remains our mission. PHAs need to plan more strategically than ever before. So, as all businesses must ask in tough times: How can we maximize dollars and cut costs?

Tip #5: Market like a pro.

Property managers need to know the neighborhood, as well as the housing market in that neighborhood. What is your competition? What amenities and services are offered in comparable developments? A local market with high rents and low vacancies will make public housing much more attractive to families.

The quality of your public housing stock (location, market appeal and general appearance, services and amenities, etc.) greatly affects lease-up. Think about the quality of your customer service at the project — are prospective applicants welcomed? Do the property manager and onsite staff know how to "sell" not only the unit, but the property?

What about services in the neighborhood? Is there good public transportation? A supermarket? Good schools? A YMCA? (Walk Score is a helpful resource when making these evaluations.)

Properties with pictures get ten times more traffic. Take photos of the outside of the property and inside the unit. Consider your landscaping and signage. Put some decorative touches such as curtains or potted plants in the unit. Potential renters will arrive at the property with an attractive picture already in mind.

Curb appeal is very important to ensure a highly-leased property. Are you removing graffiti immediately? Is your project the first one shoveled out after a snowstorm? Is trash picked up daily? Attractive landscaping, nice signage, and a clean and neat management office contribute to curb appeal.

Fewer people read newspapers these days. Most people go online to shop for an apartment. Develop a website, with pictures of the property as well as the interior of a unit.

Finally, remember that the leasing office needs to have some evening and weekend hours to meet the schedules of working households. One of the most important marketing techniques is for the unit to be spic-and-span when you show it; the number one complaint from prospective renters is a dirty unit. The seemingly small details make the sale.

To sum up, the five occupancy tips we've discussed are:

You might also be interested in Terry Provance's occupancy series we published last October:

Next week, I'll talk about some other ways that your PHA can maximize dollars without cutting corners.

Next: Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #6

NMA senior associate Cara Gillette trains, consults, and provides technical assistance nationwide in fair housing, public housing management, hearings, economic self-sufficiency, and governing boards. Prior to joining NMA, Ms. Gillette served at the San Diego Housing Commission, administering its public housing and Section 8 waiting lists, serving as hearing officer, managing public housing, and overseeing resident economic development programs. She has previously written for the NMA blog about blended occupancy projects.

If you find that you need staffing help during sequestration, NMA can assist your agency with recertifications (done remotely), quality control, outsourced hearing officer services (done remotely), HQS inspections, and more. Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: budget cuts, customer service, occupancy, sequestration, Trainers and Consultants

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #18

Posted by NMA on Feb 11, 2013 2:58:31 PM

Tip #18: Maintain a viable owner base.

The availability of suitable housing is essential for maximum program utilization. Make sure you're meeting the informational needs of new owners and providing excellent service to all owners participating in the program. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Make owner outreach and marketing to owners an ongoing activity (the NMA Owner's Handbook can be helpful during this process)
  • Emphasize interpersonal skills as well as technical skills for inspectors
  • Respond quickly to owner inquiries and complaints
  • Ensure consistency in HQS inspections (the NMA Quick Check Guide is a useful resource)
  • Ensure timely HAP payments
  • Rehabilitate or eliminate underperforming and substandard owners
  • Reach out to owners periodically for customer service feedback

We've covered a lot of ground here. To summarize, here are the 18 steps I've outlined to help your PHA maximize performance in the HCV program.

In the first five tips, we covered ways to define and communicate your agency’s goals and how you plan to get there:

Next, we talked about how to monitor results:

Then, we discussed how a manager can set up a leadership system with an emphasis on production, accuracy, and customer service:

Finally, we reviewed some methods for maximizing HCV program utilization:

Managing the HCV program is a complex task, but with a defined plan, an effective monitoring system, and a strong leadership system, your path to high performance and program utilization should be clear.

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

Nan McKay and Associates provides training and consulting solutions to improve your PHA’s program utilization, including HCV utilization assessments, compliance assessments, onsite lease-up, and program management. You can also schedule a SEMAP and Program Utilization workshop for your agency. Contact sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: customer service, executive management, Executive Team, HCV utilization, HQS, inspections, supervision

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #1

Posted by NMA on Jan 8, 2013 1:05:25 PM

Tip #1: Establish and communicate clear expectations and guidelines.

If you want to teach someone how to build a car, it's best to show them a picture of a car first. If you don't, the steering wheel may end up on the hood, and the transmission may end up in the glove compartment. In order to build a quality program, you must define and communicate what the end product will look like and exactly what needs to be done to get there.

Everything starts at the top and rolls down. If management doesn't clearly state the desired results, staff will decide what they think should be done. In the absence of clear expectations, they'll attempt a variety of approaches, trying to figure out what management really wants. Trial and error, even with the best of intentions, will very likely result in sporadic and usually unacceptable outcomes.

For best results, create measurable performance standards that clearly define the goals for production, accuracy, and customer service. Here are some examples:

  • Production: Complete an average of 98% of assigned reexaminations prior to the required notice of the effective date
  • Accuracy: Maintain 98% accuracy rate for quality-controlled file reviews
  • Customer Service: Achieve a 4.0 rating from clients served

Next, we'll talk about choosing a caseload model to fit the needs of your agency.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #2

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation's first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA's HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

Topics: customer service, executive management, Executive Team, quality control

Outsourcing: the foundation of success

Posted by NMA on Feb 22, 2012 3:49:58 PM

Dorian JenkinsThe  goal of a PHA is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to its clients. In doing so, the agency must align with HUD regulations and be certain that locally administered programs are efficient and effective.

These benchmarks may prove nearly impossible for many PHAs to reach, particularly amid reduced budgets. Outsourcing is a proven progression to ensure PHAs continue to serve families and attain excellence.

The greatest challenge of outsourcing is the selection of a quality vendor who will promote cohesion within the PHA. When considering vendors, PHAs must  strategize how to best meet their own needs and the needs of their stakeholders. Ultimately, productive communication between the vendor and PHA will determine the success of the contract. All parties must fully understand their responsibilities relative to the contractual agreement and services provided.

While the challenge of vendor selection may seem daunting, it's important to remember the numerous benefits of outsourcing:

  • Opportunity for the PHA to serve as a true asset manager
  • Greater focus on customer service and professionalism
  • Industry experts regularly onsite
  • Access to industry leaders, training, and technology that otherwise would be out of reach
  • Single group accountability
  • Increased SEMAP scores
  • Reduced administrative costs
  • Innovation capacity enhancement
  • Increased productivity and corporate culture of performance excellence
  • PHA can focus on big-picture strategic objectives

To determine if outsourcing is an appropriate choice for your agency, consider the following:

  • Does customer need surpass your agency's ability to meet and exceed requirements?
  • What's the total cost of the department under consideration for outsourcing?
  • What structures will your agency employ to track vendor performance?
  • Can the outsourcing relationship be reversed if/when conditions change?
  • Can the contracted vendor adapt more quickly than you can to changes in staffing/funding availability?
  • Does the department under consideration correlate with one or many "core" PHA-maintained processes?

As VP of Program Management for NMA, Dorian Jenkins currently leads NMA's Chicago team, which administers 17,000 contracts on behalf of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). His team has successfully maximized unit and budget utilization for the CHA's HCV, Mod Rehab, and PBV programs, while incorporating a customer-focused culture within the CHA.

Topics: budget cuts, customer service, Executive Team, Mod Rehab, operational support, outsourcing, PBV, program management, SEMAP

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