The New Year is already in full swing and it is going to be a big one for property management companies, specifically in Affordable housing. 2021 was another year of pivoting for the industry as the Great Resignation sparked staffing shortages, we grappled with COVID-related supply chain issues, and we experienced an increase in mental health related incidents at properties. As we enter 2022 these issues are still front and center – plus, it’s now Tax Credit reporting season!
While there’s a lot we can’t control that will continue to require improvisation, we believe there are four changes that affordable housing property management companies can make to better position themselves for success in 2022 and beyond.
1. Automate Tax Credit Annual Reporting
It is annual reporting season for tax credit properties and for many, this comes with a lot of grumbling and moaning. The common denominator for those who are dreading annual reports comes down to how manual the process is for properties who do not have the right software. Tracking down the vast amount of paperwork and reporting all while knowing the smallest oversight could have detrimental effects puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on your team.
By moving to an Affordable housing software now in the new year, you won’t need to put this burden on your team again as the software will create annual reports for you. Keeping all paperwork and reporting within the software and under one roof helps eliminate the chances of human error and reduces manual work around filing and keeping track of important documents. Above all, it saves your team time and stress. You can rest easy throughout the year knowing the next annual reporting season will be more of a breeze.
2. Improve Operating Efficiency and Reduce Risk With Technology
When you look at the last couple of decades and the contributions technology has made to everyday life, it’s not difficult to realize how it can also enable properties to be more efficient and deliver greater value to owners and investors. But how exactly does technology contribute to affordable properties and why is it so necessary to have in 2022?
Some of the immediate benefits revolve around operations. Switching to online leasing and online payments not only helps property managers complete back-office work more efficiently, but also allows residents (who are already proficient in using technology in their everyday lives) to deliver documents and payments with little to no hassle.
To go alongside that, the Great Resignation has mostly stemmed from Millennials and Gen Z demanding a healthier and happier work environment. Seeing as those two generations grew up using technology and have faster adoption to tech than other generations, adding modern tech to your property’s operations will also help attract and retain staff.
Technology has continuously given people back their time. Since time is money, using tech has the indirect benefit of lower operational costs and increased efficiency for your property. This only further contributes to your property’s success as your staff can be better focused on more important tasks at hand.
For example, many Affordable properties are storing documents in filing cabinets, scanning and uploading documents by hand. Having software that creates, stores, and compiles documents frees up time and eliminates the possibility of human errors like losing or misplacing important files. Going paperless with the right technology is actually safer and more secure – and let’s face it, no one loves digging into filing cabinets anymore.
Technology can’t do everything for your property, but it can help you get more done with the team you have and minimize the risk of human error.
For those already using affordable housing property management software or if you’re a software vendor, TRACS 203-A has been an ongoing conversation, and we seem to finally be in the home stretch, with implementation expected to start in the second half of 2022. Currently, software vendors are waiting for further guidance from HUD. One good thing to note is the conversation is picking up speed which is why there is some expectation that implementation will happen soon (“Finally!”).
Once we have an official date, it will be important for vendors to put a plan in place internally to deliver software updates and train teams on the changes. If this isn’t on your radar now, it should be. Our goal is to set up our users for success by having a plan in place to implement changes smoothly and seamlessly.
3. Provide Better Mental Health Support
Mental health has been a hot topic for the Affordable housing industry, as of late. Properties are seeing the effects of the pandemic on their residents and as a result, police calls, domestic violence, gang activity, and suicides have increased noticeably.
Toward the end of 2021, many properties spoke up about putting training in place for frontline workers, specifically for active-shooters, suicide prevention, and general de-escalation training. It’s unfortunate that this is a problem at all for properties, however, it’s important to consider the best ways to enable your frontline staff to handle and recover from catastrophic occurrences around the property.
The more your staff is supported, the more your residents can also be supported. Providing resources for your residents and employees can also indirectly contribute to the growth of your property. A happy staff and happy residents create safety and helps residents get past barriers they may be experiencing in life. Consider having local hotlines and getting corporate involved as a sounding board for your residents and staff. Be sure that contact information for available resources is accessible to those who may need it.
Creating a supportive property will help residents do things like pay their rent in a timely manner and will foster an environment residents can truly call home.
4. Improve Team Satisfaction and Retention
As Affordable properties pivot from the Great Resignation, it’s time to consider what they can do to retain employees and prevent further resignations. What matters most is showing a clear investment in your staff and training them well so they can be set up for success and career growth.
Consider your employees: what skill sets do they have? What are their goals? Use that information to map out individualized career plans to get them where they want to go. Have annual or quarterly check-ins set up between managers and their employees so progress can be evaluated and adjustments can be made accordingly. Employees will stay with you if they are learning and growing.
Encourage management to give positive feedback and affirmation to employees when they complete tough trainings or projects. Affirmation goes a long way in boosting employee’s overall happiness in the workplace. If all feedback is negative despite their growth and progress, they will burnout and leave quickly.
Another thing to consider is allowing a place for employees to give feedback. Statistics show that retention rates for employees decrease 16% when they feel like they can’t give feedback to their management. But remember that this also requires those who receive the feedback to be open-minded and to actually consider the feedback given by frontline staff.
Evaluate your training programs for new employees and recurring training programs for veteran staff. 10% of employees will leave early due to poor onboarding and training experiences.
To read more about emerging trends in Affordable housing, check out this white paper.