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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

Outsourcing administrative responsibilities for your PBV program

Posted by NMA on Mar 22, 2012 9:08:19 AM

Carrol VaughanProject-based vouchers are increasingly popular at housing authorities as an incentive to draw rental property owners into the program, as well as provide a housing subsidy to service providers that work with special needs populations such as homeless persons, disabled persons, or those in substance abuse recovery.

Because of the nature of some of the population that utilizes project-based vouchers, there's a significantly higher turnover of participants/residents living in the assisted units. This turnover creates additional administrative workload for the PHA, without any additional financial resources to add staff to handle the turnover.

As a result, some PHAs have begun to require project owners or sponsors to provide some or all of the administrative tasks associated with the PBV program. Most, if not all, welcome these tasks, because it can provide them with more control over the process. In some cases, the PHA shares or passes along the admin fee to defray the costs of administration.

In formal solicitations, the willingness to administer some or all of the administrative tasks is often one of the evaluation criteria used in the proposal process the PHA uses to award contracts for project-based vouchers.

If your agency decides to outsource admin tasks to owners or sponsors, there are several factors which should be carefully considered:

  • Your PHA remains fully responsible for compliance with HUD regulations and requirements.
  • It's imperative that project owners or sponsors have well-trained staff who understand the assigned tasks (eligibility, income, assets, deductions, rent portion calculation, inspectors, rent reasonableness, data transmission) and the various reporting deadlines that your agency must follow.
  • Your housing authority must perform monitoring of the tasks assigned to the project owners or sponsors. When HUD staff schedule monitoring reviews or program audits, your agency will be expected to have full knowledge of the site operations and work completed by the project owner or sponsor. Any errors or failure to complete tasks will become your responsibility to explain and rectify.

Common errors reported by PHAs that have passed administrative tasks to project owners or sponsors include:

  • HQS violations
  • Lack of rent reasonableness data
  • Inadequate documentation
  • Calculation errors
  • Incorrect reporting
  • Late reporting
  • Transmission errors to the PHA
  • High staff turnover at sites, resulting in untrained staff doing the admin work, or the work not being completed at all

An operational plan is highly recommended. Your plan should include an agreement with the project owner or sponsor that clearly describes:

  • Tasks to be completed by the owner/sponsor
  • The staff member, by position, who will be your point of contact
  • Specific forms to be used
  • Full training plan, including updates and refresher training
  • Scheduled onsite reviews by PHA staff
  • Unscheduled visits to the site for spot checks

Along with regular monitoring, an operational plan will greatly improve your agency's success rate in offloading some of the administrative burden associated with the PBV program.

With over 30 years of experience in the affordable housing industry, VP of Professional Services Carrol Vaughan ensures that NMA continues to help PHAs better serve their communities. To learn more about outsourcing administrative tasks for your PBV program, contact sales@nanmckay.com.

Topics: operational support, outsourcing, PBV

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, Mod Rehab, operational support, outsourcing, PBV, program management, SEMAP

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