ResMan’s Senior Vice President of Product, Janel Ganim, recently attended the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing’s (CARH) 2021 Virtual Midyear Meeting. As an expert in affordable housing, here are her takeaways.

The affordable housing industry is a tight knit community—one I’m pleased to be involved in. My fellow ResMan teammate and friend, Rue Fox, and I attend meetings, conferences and trade shows to meet others in the industry, learn from them and get a better understanding of how we can improve the ResMan’s affordable housing software to better serve their needs.

While we’re only able to attend remote meetings right now, we’re so ready to get back to in-person gatherings and see friendly faces again. Until then, virtual events with associations like CARH and NAHMA have been a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of affordable housing and stay informed.

I recently attended the 2021 CARH Midyear Meeting at the end of January, which was a great opportunity to hear from affordable and rural housing managers and industry experts in the public and private sector.

While the agenda covered everything from regulatory changes and future legislation to industry trends and best practices, here are a few key points from the meeting:

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1. Hybrid Conferences

Due to COVID-19, organizations across industries had to choose whether to cancel events or shift to a virtual environment for all meetings, conferences and training. Though most of us, particularly vendors, are ready to get back to in-person events and trade shows, the shift to virtual events is giving us a glimpse at the new normal: hybrid conferences.

Associations are expecting to move to hybrid conferences as the pandemic winds down and even after it’s over. These hybrid conferences and trade shows will offer both in-person and virtual events to cater to as many industry professionals as possible.

This opens up an opportunity for those who are unable to travel due to distance, cost or work responsibilities. Between hybrid conferences and on-demand webinars, more people will have the opportunity to stay informed of industry news and be involved in the conversation.

2. Expenses Exceeding Income

A major concern for many CARH members centered around the possibility of their operating expenses exceeding their income. Pandemic relief bills, rent caps, minimum wage increases and other government issues and legislation have affordable housing owners concerned with how they will maintain their bottom line.

In regards to the proposed minimum wage increase, owners are concerned about being able to attract top talent. If properties can’t increase rent to offset increased salary requirements, there’s a chance for a talent gap in the workforce. In an industry where every employee already works tirelessly, this has the potential to be a major obstacle.

It’s also important to note the impact an increase in minimum wage could have on tenants. An increase would put many tenants over the income limit, making them ineligible to live at their current site or moving them to market rent. It will also be harder for new tenants to qualify to live at certain properties. Therefore, CARH members are predicting a drop in the income limits to allow tenants to stay in affordable housing.

Affordable housing owners also face a backlog of maintenance tasks. Since the pandemic caused owners to put many tasks on hold for safety and financial reasons, property managers are trying to prioritize maintenance tasks and manage budgeting. Maintenance is often one of the largest ongoing expenses for properties. With so many tasks to complete, repairs can be a huge blow to already tight budgets.

It’s more important than ever for affordable housing owners to effectively manage their budgets and have an easy way to monitor expenses. Leveraging a partner who can provide the tools for accounting, layered funding programs for tax credits, a native payment platform and more can provide peace of mind as they weather the year ahead.

3. Increased Focus on Technology

One topic that continues to come up in CARH and other affordable housing industry meetings is a focus on technology. With more teams working remotely due to the pandemic, PMCs have increased reliance on digital processes.

To maintain efficiency, affordable housing PMCs have begun managing leasing, payments, recertifications and other processes online. Affordable housing PMCs are also seeing the need for mobile maintenance solutions to manage and complete tasks on time.

The need for remote management solutions has allowed PMCs to see the value leveraging software to centralize data and even manage compliance. Using a platform designed for affordable housing PMCs allows property managers to proactively manage their affordable property portfolio and simplify compliance.

The next CARH meeting will be the 2021 Annual Meeting and Legislative Conference from June 28-30. Learn more about CARH here.