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Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #13

Posted by NMA on May 2, 2013 10:08:46 AM

Cara GilletteWhile public housing funding for May is now at an 82% proration level (up from 79% in April), sequestration is still in effect, and Congress shows no inclination to reverse it any time soon.

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 #13: Look at your maintenance costs.

Maintenance salaries and benefits are always a big cost in public housing. If your PHA is large and your maintenance staff is still centralized, take another look at the costs as mentioned in Tip #11.

Also, if you have centralized maintenance, chances are good that your PHA is spending too much on vehicles and gas. You want to keep onsite staff onsite as much as possible and reduce driving time. Many PHAs are switching to maintenance tractor carts, which are like heavy-duty golf carts, with great reviews — keeps the maintenance staff onsite, and cuts way down on gas.

Some other points to keep in mind:

  • Preventative maintenance can be costly to implement, but it will save you money in the long run and prevent those constant trips to the central warehouse or hardware store.
  • Take an honest look at overtime. You may need to just show up a few times on Saturday and see how busy folks are. As with all staff, managing to clear expectations and performance standards is key to productivity.
  • Finally, be fair to your maintenance staff. Their work is essential to keeping the properties decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair.

Next: Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #14

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 for more information.

Topics: Budget Cuts, Maintenance, Sequestration

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