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Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #13

Posted by NMA on Jan 31, 2013 9:19:34 AM

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:

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:

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.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #14

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 sales@nanmckay.com for details.

Topics: compliance assessments, executive management, financial management, HCV utilization, onsite lease-up, program management, SEMAP, supervision, VMS

PIH publishes final rule on SEMAP lease-up indicator

Posted by NMA on Jun 6, 2012 2:32:06 PM

HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing has finalized a rule revising the Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) lease-up indicator.

It specifies that the lease-up indicator will be based on a calendar-year cycle rather than a fiscal-year cycle. It also states explicitly that units assisted under the voucher homeownership option or occupied under a project-based housing assistance payments (HAP) contract are included (as they always have been) in the assessment of PHA units leased.

In response to a public comment submitted on the proposed rule, the final rule also clarifies what budget authority includes. The amendments to 24 CFR 985.3(n) will be applicable to the first SEMAP certification due after July 2, when the final rule takes effect.

Nan McKay and Associates provides training and consulting solutions to assist your PHA with SEMAP score improvement, including 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 details.

Topics: compliance assessments, final rule, HCV utilization, onsite lease-up, program management, SEMAP

Operational support: ensuring effective delivery of services

Posted by NMA on May 2, 2012 8:18:28 AM

Andrew DenicolaMany PHAs have a requirement for short- or long-term operational support to ensure the effective delivery of services for their HCV and public housing programs.

This might range from the provision of short-term operational line staff coverage while in-house resources are unavailable or tasked with other responsibilities, to providing interim executive positions to lead your organization through the transition process.

When choosing an operational support provider, it's important to consider companies that can provide experienced resources and a proven track record of success. Potential providers should also be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to adapt
  • Learn the specific details of how your PHA does business
  • Complete the work accurately
  • Adhere to established timeframes and budgets
  • Develop and maintain reporting metrics

For further reading, you might find these links useful:

As an NMA consultant, Andrew Denicola has assisted large HCV programs with the development and implementation of comprehensive quality control protocols, as well as the ongoing development of streamlined policy and procedure for multiple PHAs. In his current role as strategic sales and business development manager, Mr. Denicola provides a knowledgeable liaison to the assisted housing industry.

Whatever your requirements, Nan McKay and Associates can provide experienced, qualified people to ensure the integrity and stability of your operation or to help with the management and focus of your PHA’s activities. Contact sales@nanmckay.com to learn more.

Topics: onsite lease-up, operational support, outsourcing, program management, quality control

Maximizing lease-up to maximize fees in the HCV program: Part IV

Posted by NMA on Mar 20, 2012 10:06:19 AM

In these times of reduced budgets, it's more important than ever to understand our funding, learn how to maximize our earnings, and share ideas on how we can do more with less. Follow our four-part series on HCV administrative fees.

Part I: How did we get here? A brief history of changes in admin fee allocations, and how circumstances created the "perfect storm" for housing authorities

Part II: Why it's so important to manage our leasing to voucher allocations

Part III: What agencies can do to better lease to voucher allocations

Part IV: Streamlining operations to reduce the strain on admin fees

Streamlining operations to reduce the strain on admin fees

It's always smart to work efficiently. And in today's environment, it's a must for housing authorities. Here are just a few changes to your operations you may want to consider to reduce the administrative burden on your agency.

Action #1: Change policy so that a physical reinspection isn't required after each HQS fail

  • HUD only requires verification that the fail item was corrected.
  • The PHA can decide which fail items will require a physical reinspection, and which items will not.
  • The agency may wish to implement policy that non-life-threatening fails can be verified as corrected with a certification of correction signed by both the owner and the family.

Action #2: For PBV HQS, inspect only 20% of the units annually instead of 100%

Action #3: For annual reexaminations, require face-to-face interviews only every other year

  • There's no regulatory requirement for face-to-face interviews.
  • Conduct mail-in reexaminations every other year, with agency-defined exceptions such as zero-income families and families that don't provide information/documentation in a timely manner.

Action #4: Take the time to implement new requirements and eliminate unnecessary requirements

  • Implement HUD's verification hierarchy as outlined in PIH 2010 to save time and money.
  • Clean up your forms. Ask what needs to be asked, consolidate multiple forms, remove redundancies, and eliminate unnecessary forms.
  • Revisit policy and get rid of unnecessary requirements. For example, if policy states that staff must collect six paystubs but staff only collects two because the deadline is approaching, your agency can be dinged in a HUD audit for not following policy. You don't want to delay completion of an annual reexamination while staff waits for that sixth paystub to arrive.
  • Review workflow to determine if there are redundant and/or unnecessary actions. Be cautious about implementing new procedures in response to a single unusual circumstance. Each hand touching a piece of paper adds time to work processing!

Action #5: Stop unnecessary actions

Is your agency performing any of these unnecessary actions?

  • Verifying preferences before the family is selected from the waiting list. The family's situation may change over time; wait until they're selected from the waiting list to verify claimed preferences.
  • Mailing notices to owners at the family's annual reexamination advising the owner that it's time to request a rent increase. It's not the agency's responsibility to solicit rent increases from owners! Rent increases drive up PUCs while creating an additional work burden.
  • Requiring owners and/or families to sign rent change notices.
  • Bringing in all zero-income families every month. There's no HUD requirement to bring zero-income families in at times other than annually. Instead, review New Hires Reports and other EIV reports.

This concludes our four-part series on HCV administrative fees.NMA senior consultant Teri Robertson is nationally recognized as a leading expert in HCV and public housing rent calculation, including HUD RIM review requirements. She specializes in helping agencies improve program utilization to maximize funding.

Topics: budget cuts, HCV utilization, HQS, inspections, onsite lease-up

Maximizing lease-up to maximize fees in the HCV program: Part III

Posted by NMA on Mar 12, 2012 10:55:45 AM

In these times of reduced budgets, it's more important than ever to understand our funding, learn how to maximize our earnings, and share ideas on how we can do more with less. Follow our four-part series on HCV administrative fees.

Part I: How did we get here? A brief history of changes in admin fee allocations, and how circumstances created the "perfect storm" for housing authorities

Part II: Why it's so important to manage our leasing to voucher allocations

Part III: What agencies can do to better lease to voucher allocations

Part IV: Streamlining operations to reduce the strain on admin fees

What agencies can do to better lease to voucher allocations

When you're building a plan to better lease to voucher allocations, there are two important issues you'll want to address.

First, you'll need to take a look at reducing per unit costs. Although it isn't an easy task, agencies can take certain actions to reduce the average PUC. It must be acknowledged that none of these actions are going to have immediate impact, and that some of these actions may not apply to your agency. Here are two examples of actions your agency might take to reduce PUC.

Action #1: Reduce payment standards

  • The payment standard represents the highest possible subsidy the agency will pay on behalf of the family.
  • The payment standard used is the bedroom size on the voucher or the actual bedroom size of the unit, whichever is lower.
  • If an agency decreases a payment standard, the new, lower payment standard is not used until the second annual reexamination after the payment standard has been reduced. This rule does not apply to new admissions or moves, or when the voucher size changed (regardless of whether the change was due to a family composition change or because the agency changed their subsidy standards).

We do often hear, "Families can't find units to lease, so higher payment standards are needed."

Consider: Is this fact? Or is it perception based on what families tell you?

Even if reducing payment standards does increase the family share, you might decide to assist more families with less assistance, vs. helping fewer families with more assistance.

Look at rent paid by local unassisted families. Gather information and analyze. Require families to complete and turn in housing search logs, then contact the listed owners to query if the unit rent really was too high. Compile vacancy rate data from your community. Use your rent reasonableness comparability data to determine what rents are really like within your community.

NMA has been advised that HUD has waived the "Payment Protection Standard" rule for some agencies that have demonstrated they can't afford to lease up all allocated vouchers if required to wait to until the annual reexamination to apply the lower payment standard.

Action #2: Revisit occupancy standards

This is a good time to review your occupancy standards with fresh eyes to ensure that they aren't too generous. Although you can set them as strict as "two people per bedroom, regardless of age, gender, or relationship (except for reasonable accommodation)," most agencies will consider multi-generational households and age/gender when establishing their occupancy standards.

We recommend that you be neither too strict nor too generous. Also, be sure to run software reports to see what the HAP impact will be if you change occupancy standards.

If you need to lease up, don't hesitate. Develop and implement a leasing plan as quickly as possible. Include a look at administered port-in vouchers to determine if you wish to absorb, but build a solid, measurable plan. Each month that you fall behind in housing will only make your problem worse.

NMA senior consultant Teri Robertson is nationally recognized as a leading expert in HCV and public housing rent calculation, including HUD RIM review requirements. She specializes in helping agencies improve program utilization to maximize funding.

Topics: budget cuts, HCV utilization, occupancy, onsite lease-up, reasonable accommodation, rent reasonableness

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