Tip #13: Ensure effective program utilization.
To review, in the first five tips, we covered ways to define and communicate your agency's goals and how you plan to get there:
- Establish and communicate clear expectations and guidelines.
- Choose the caseload model which best fits the needs of your agency.
- Create and assign realistic and equitable caseloads.
- Create a caseload and accuracy plan with specific performance standards.
- Create practical work systems and work processes to ensure consistency.
Next, we talked about how to monitor results:
- Design a quality-control system.
- Gather data using tools to clearly and quickly identify problem areas.
- Analyze results through reports.
Then, we discussed how a manager can set up a leadership system with an emphasis on production, accuracy, and customer service:
- Take timely and effective action where needed.
- Celebrate wins.
- Implement a problem response strategy.
- Ensure adequate and capable supervision.
Now, let's look at the final piece of the performance puzzle — how to ensure effective program utilization.
In the past, HCV finance directors managed the HCV money and told the HCV managers when and how many families to lease. That system worked fine when agencies were financed in units, not dollars. HUD used to allocate funding by bedroom size, and that drove the leasing activities. When HUD moved to dollar funding and total baseline units, the role of the HCV manager had to change internally within the agency. As a result, finance and HCV management are now interdependent.
Today, housing choice voucher managers must have a basic understanding of not only how the HCV program is financed and the corresponding funding and leasing requirements, but also how to use tools to track, monitor, and forecast lease-up and the status of funding dollars. HCV managers need to understand budgeted vs. actual PUCs (per unit costs). The HCV manager should understand restricted net assets and unrestricted net assets. And since fees are earned by units leased, the HCV manager must also understand the administrative fee budget, and be capable of monitoring fee earnings vs. administrative expenses.
Program utilization is usually considered to be the responsibility of the HCV manager. However, without access to financial information, it's impossible to manage to both baseline units and dollars. As HUD ties funding tighter and tighter to the Voucher Management System (VMS), the HCV manager must fully understand how to utilize and analyze the VMS reporting results.
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 compliance assessments, onsite lease-up, and program management. You can also schedule a SEMAP and Program Utilization workshop for your agency. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.