Rue Fox and Janel Ganim are coming to you LIVE from NAHMA to give updates on the Affordable Housing industry, as well as hearing from industry leaders themselves. Peter Lewis, Executive Vice President of Property Management, the Schochet Companies, Anthony Sandoval, President & CEO of WSH Management Inc., and Jennifer Wood, Vice President of the John Stewart Company all shared their insights into employee retention and recruiting, legislative changes, and more! Cocktail of the episode? Mimosas for our morning session!
About ResMan: ResMan delivers the property management industry’s most innovative technology platform, making property investments and operations more profitable and easier to manage. ResMan’s platform unlocks a new path to growth for property management companies that deliver consistent NOI improvement and brilliant resident experiences easier than ever before. To learn more about our platform, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.
ResMan’s Affordable Compliance experts, Rue Fox and Janel Ganim, are back with a delicious cocktail along with PropTalk’s latest episode of Cocktails and Compliance! Cocktail of the Episode? Ciroc Vodka Spritz – YUM! Sit down and hear all the Affordable updates from TRACS 203-A, staffing and supply chain issues, inflation’s impact on Affordable, new HUD PBCA procurements, and more! Plenty to hear about on this episode and you don’t want to miss it!
About ResMan: About ResMan: ResMan delivers the property management industry’s most innovative technology platform, making property investments and operations more profitable and easier to manage. ResMan’s platform unlocks a new path to growth for property management companies that deliver consistent NOI improvement and brilliant resident experiences easier than ever before. To learn more about our platform, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.
While NAA’s Apartmentalize conference isn’t known for delivering exceptional Affordable Housing content, the organization is trying to up its game in this area. Thursday’s session, “Affordable Ain’t All Bad. YIMBY From a Young Company’s Perspective!” presented by Karla Burck, EVP Development at KCG Companies and Kimberly Hurd, EVP, Property Management, KCG Residential, LLC, provided some great insights into how Affordable Housing developers can work with “NIMBY” (Not in My Back Yard) communities and gain support for desperately needed new affordable housing.
During the session, Karla and Kimberly walked through two case studies – one in Anderson, SC and the second in Ellenwood, GA, sharing detailed information about the opposition they faced and how they were able to change minds and gain government, industry and community support for the projects. They talked about how it’s critical to understand constituents and what their concerns and priorities are and then work to address concerns and structure the project in a way that it addresses some of the communities’ priorities, so it becomes a win-win for everyone. Below we cover three types of constituents that KCG worked with and how they were able to move them from NIMBY to YIMBY.
In the case of KCG’s Anderson, SC project, the local government knew they needed affordable housing in the city to attract more businesses but faced opposition from the community. The government also knew that they had an issue with the water system (a concern that was shared by the community) and desperately needed funding for improvements. The water system issue presented an opportunity to build alignment and make the project a win-win.
For the Ellenwood, GA project, the local government was opposed to “Affordable Housing”, but at least one councilman understood that there was a need for apartments since the area had become unaffordable and many workers were being forced further and further out of town. A priority for the councilman and the local government in general was to bring medical offices to the community, something that KCG knew would be difficult to do without housing available nearby for those that would work in those offices. To get the councilman on board, KCG was able to show that many of the area workers (bus drivers, custodians, government employees, etc.) had salaries that were at or below 60% AMI and they would qualify to live in the planned affordable housing community. KCG also recommended that the councilman call the medical providers he was hoping to attract to the community to understand what was keeping them from coming. It turns out housing for their employees was a top concern. Getting that one councilman on board was a key turning point.
As with most LIHTC projects, communities worry that when affordable housing comes to the community, it will bring murderers, thieves, rapists, child molesters, and poor people with problems that will burden the community. Property values will drop, schools will decline, and the community will be less safe. Quoting studies that disprove these concerns generally isn’t effective because constituents don’t believe those studies are relevant to their specific community. KCG focused on working directly with community leaders and influencers by being very open and transparent with them. They took them through the tenant selection plan so they understood the profile of someone who would qualify (and not qualify) to live in the community – income levels, criminal history, etc. They also compared salaries that qualified with salaries of workers that were already in the community so they could see that it was housing meant for them and not poor people from somewhere else.
In Anderson, SC in particular, Section 8 housing experience shaped their perception of affordable housing, and KCG was able to demonstrate that Section 8 vouchers only accounted for 10% of tenants in communities that they managed. They also shared the requirements they put in place in the affordable properties they manage to ensure the grounds and buildings are well-maintained and consistent with what the community would expect. They talked about how they enforce policies and the consequences if tenants violate them.
Beyond addressing concerns, KCG also went a step further to understand what needs the community had. In Anderson, SC, residents were concerned about the water system, and KCG allocated $1,000 per unit to improve the water system – funding that the water company desperately needed. In Ellenwood, GA, the community wanted restaurants. KCG brought in restaurant owners and operators to talk about what is needed to make a community a viable place to open a restaurant – number of households and housing for workers were key criteria.
Perhaps those with the most at stake are those whose property borders the affordable housing community. KCG met with neighbors to understand their specific concerns and what they could feasibly do to address them. In the case of the Ellenwood, GA property, the neighbors hadn’t realized that the vacant land had been rezoned to be commercial, so it was helpful for them to understand that regardless they were going to have neighbors that were not single family residences. The neighbors were most concerned about preserving trees and minimizing traffic. KCG was able to preserve an area on the property where the trees would remain, and they agreed to put a gate at the second entrance that would only be accessible to emergency personnel.
KCG believes that the approach they have taken in engaging the local government and community in dialog, aligning the project to deliver something those constituents want, and providing visibility and transparency into how tenants will be selected and how the property will be managed has been critical to gaining approval for the projects. They look forward to continuing to build affordable housing where it’s needed using this blueprint, and hope that others are able to do so as well.
The Affordable housing industry is one with a lot of guidelines. From compliance to daily operations, keeping organized for electronic data submissions is key to the success of affordable properties. Plenty of properties have been using software to better streamline their processes and help eliminate risk associated with compliance. Software can take a huge burden off owner/operators, helping them ensure they are compliant, avoiding violations, costly fines, and potentially even greater consequences.
Having the right affordable housing solution in place will bring some sort of return to your business. Whatever you are paying for in a software should ultimately result in additional value coming back to your properties and operations – more time, more revenue, less cost, etc. But not all affordable solutions do this, so it’s important to consider your options carefully. Below are some points to consider.
Your software should support your entire Affordable portfolio.
Many owners and operators have a mix of different affordable property types – some HUD, some Tax Credit, maybe a few rural and often some properties with layered programs. Each program type has different requirements and regulations, and not all affordable housing software supports all types of programs. As a result, many property management companies find they need multiple different systems to manage their portfolio. Does having multiple systems make operations more complicated than it should be? Wouldn’t it be easier if one system supported all the affordable property types with a company’s portfolio?
Your software should support the way you operate.
One of the keys to ensuring you are getting value for your software is to make sure it works for the way your business operates. For organizations with smaller (often Rural Development) properties, it might not make sense to have staff handling the site level tasks. Yet many software solutions are designed assuming that most tasks take place at the property level rather than from a central location. Organizations like this should look for software that can easily separate and organize properties how they need it to be separated. Group your rural housing properties in to one view? This is important. Separate properties based on regional managers overseeing it? Shouldn’t be a problem. The software should ultimately be able to keep you organized and efficient and if it isn’t, you’re not getting enough from your supplier.
Your software should be easy to use.
For software to deliver value, it needs to make jobs easier, not harder. If your frontline managers are telling you that software takes a long time to learn or isn’t intuitive to navigate or is hard for them to use, that’s a sign that you aren’t getting the value you should expect. Getting where you need to in the system shouldn’t have to be several clicks and open tabs. It should only have to be a few clicks at most to find what you need.
Software should also have customization options so your teams can make the most out of their use. Having a customizable dashboard where users can see the valuable information while logging quick actions makes for more efficient operations. When it is easy to use, it is easy to train others to use it, too, meaning you do not have to spend extra time getting employees onboarded, especially in a high turnover industry.
Your software should make the recertification process smoother.
Certifications and recertifications are often the most tedious parts of Affordable housing operations- especially when you’re doing this without a great software. And if you have rural properties, handling MINC submissions for every particular property can be a lot. If you’ve considered a software that will help you group properties according to type, you can also find a software that will let you submit recertifications all at one time for the types of Affordable properties you own. No need to do one rural property at a time, just do them all at once! That’s how a software should be, making your operations easier.
Your software should be browser-agnostic.
As we like to say, software should be plug and play! Software shouldn’t need to change much of what you’re already using but should simply come on board to make life easier. If your software requires you to be on one kind of browser or one kind of device, it’s disrupting current processes and familiar operating systems for your employees in the long run.
ResMan is excited to offer Rural Housing compliance management capabilities as part of our affordable housing software solution. Just like our HUD, Tax Credit and layered program features, these rural development capabilities are seamlessly integrated with our comprehensive property management platform that includes screening, waitlist management, online leasing, tenant management, maintenance, accounting, and of course our Compliance Center dashboard! To learn more about what we are offering within one platform for you and your properties, book a demo so we can walk you through it!
ResMan’s Affordable Compliance experts, Rue Fox and Janel Ganim, are coming to you live from ResMania 2022! We served ResMan Blue Margaritas to our audience so this is most certainly a fun episode. Joined by Tax Credit expert, Stacy Day of Karen Graham Consulting and HUD expert, Jenny DeSilva of DeSilva Housing Group, hear everything from updates about TRACS 203-A, the importance of electronic signature adoption, why software can give you a lift and more on today’s episode!
About ResMan: ResMan delivers the property management industry’s most innovative technology platform, making property investments and operations more profitable and easier to manage. ResMan’s platform unlocks a new path to growth for property management companies that deliver consistent NOI improvement and brilliant resident experiences easier than ever before. To learn more about our platform, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.
The industry and ResMan are celebrating National Fair Housing Month to educate and spotlight the very real and ongoing discrimination that still happens within rental housing, even decades later. Let’s take a look back on Fair Housing since its beginnings in April of 1968.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act is a law created to help limit discriminatory practices related to landlords, tenants, and housing. The act was created on the principle that every American should have an equal opportunity to seek a place to live, without being afraid of discrimination due to factors outside their control. At this time 54 years ago, The Fair Housing Act was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, a law that has motivated change within the property management industry since its passing.
The Fair Housing Act’s Creation
Attempts at fair housing in America have been around since the mid-1800s, but it was not until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s that any real change took place. The Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were two of the first attempts to address discrimination. The real groundbreaking legislation, however, was the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which was established one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sitting Down with Fair Housing Expert, Anne Sadovsky
As someone who worked in property management when the Fair Housing Act was passed, Anne Sadovsky has been a champion for rental housing and spends most of her time speaking to properties about Fair Housing, helping them stay compliant and accountable for their residents and the laws around discrimination. We sat down with Anne to ask her a little bit about her history with Fair Housing and to better understand how far the industry has come since 1968:
It’s National Fair Housing Month. You were actually working at your first property management company a few months before the bill was passed. Tell us what you remember about the environment before the law was put into place.
I was new enough that I had no experience to understand what was happening at the site level. Training was almost non-existent. I approached my boss and suggested that we start training our team members, (in general and with things like Fair Housing laws). He said “Fine, you do it.” I had never worked on site, so I started visiting and working weekends just to see what they were doing. I was stunned! Every protected class has been denied equal treatment. When I started in the industry, we made mothers cry when WE told THEM that the property was “all adult, no kids allowed.”
It’s been 54 years since the Fair Housing Act went into place. What do you remember changing and did it change quickly? Feel free to share stories.
I had no clue about discrimination and fair housing.
Working in “HR” as personnel recruiter, I was not involved in on site daily operations. I did share in the podcast that two people from ‘the government’ showed up at my office and asked “how many “black people I had hired for management jobs.” I replied that I had not had any applicants from people of color. It was suggested that I change that. My question was ‘I am happy to do that, however I am not sure how to legally recruit people of color specifically. They responded with, “If you haven’t had any people of color apply in the next 6 months, we’ll bring you some to come work for you.” That’s what I remember about the early months of Fair Housing.
What was the response from your colleagues in the apartment industry to the Fair Housing Act? Do you remember people you worked with having any pushback or resistance?
I didn’t start teaching FH (Fair Housing) until 1988 when the last protected classes were added. Familial Status and Handicapped/Disabled changed the way we did business greatly. Prior to familial status being protected by law, we flat out advertised and told people “Adult living, no children allowed.”
In 2022, how has the industry improved and where could it use room for improvement when it comes to Fair Housing?
Savvy educated housing providers do a respectable job of complying with the longer- term laws. As America has become more sensitive to the LGBTQAI community and people with non-visible disabilities plus Sexual Harassment/Violence Against Women and Felons, the industry is still in a learning curve. Sadly, smaller companies, individually owned and managed properties seem to be less educated in Fair Housing and get many of the complaints filed. Sexual harassment, especially against low-income women, is a frequent issue.
As someone who supports and speaks frequently about it, why is Fair Housing so important to you?
First…I love this business, my clients, the associations and my desire is to help them stay out of Fair Housing trouble. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are paid in fines annually. HUD is justifiably serious about compliance and is funding big sums of money to the local housing authorities. Much of the money is used to hire testers/shoppers. What we might consider entrapment, HUD considers ‘law enforcement.” I have a new class titled “What Testers are Looking For Today.” I will explain who testers are, how they are trained and paid and how the best (and really only) plan is to know the laws and comply!
What would life be like without the Fair Housing Act?
Some housing providers feel many elements of the law are unfair; such as beingfined for words, behaviors, and errors of employees. Or for mistakes made by architects in the lack of accessibility, or for persons being segregated based on the color of their skin or A disability.
This act came into being to assure EQUALITY. That’s what America is all about! For more than 50 years we have been instructed and expected TO respect the rights of every renter. Yet many housing providers still fail to educate and supervise their team members. We hear the stories of ‘landlords’ who think they are above the law, who blatantly disregard it. We also see huge fines, even owners who are never again allowed to manage their assets.
When one drives 80 miles per hour in a 40 MPH speed limit they should expect penalties. When housing providers discriminate, they should expect the same.
EDUCATION IS CRITICAL AND SHOULD BE PROVIDED AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR!
About Anne Sadovsky:
Anne Sadovsky is a Dallas based professional speaker. She provides training, keynotes and counsel to a variety of industries, businesses and associations and is a former Vice President of Marketing and Education of Lincoln Property Company. Her expertise makes her a sought- after speaker, consultant and trainer and her training via Zoom, webinars and seminars have educated thousands. She has officially flown almost four million miles sharing her experience, expertise, wisdom and wit.
Her most sought- after topics include Fair Housing, Customer Relations and Retention, Conflict Resolution, Change Management, Leadership Skills and Dealing with Generational Differences…customizing topics is her specialty.
Anne is a widely published author and a popular guest on radio and television talk shows nationally. Her success story has been written about in many newspapers and magazines including MONEY MAGAZINE, TEXAS BUSINESS and LADIES HOME JOURNAL.
MIRABELLA Magazine listed her as one of the One Thousand Women of the 90’s, along with Mother Teresa and Oprah Winfrey. Anne’s book “Mission Possible” with Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy was a best seller. Multi Family Pro and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas have honored her with Legends Awards. She is affiliated with numerous business and professional organizations.
She has earned a Texas Real Estate license, and is a CAM, CAPS, and RAM, a CSP Designation from the National Speakers Association along with many other designations and honorary positions. Anne is one of the most astute trainers in Fair Housing and Diversity in the industry. She has been named one of the Top Trainers by Multi Housing News.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been inspired and challenged by Anne’s story. Her message is common sense, entertaining, and enlightening. She specializes in teaching people skills and believes that “where the rubber hits the road” is when people actually come face to face. She makes a difference and helps create success in both business and personal lives.
On a personal note, Anne is ecstatically married, has two spoiled dogs and 2 noisy parrots, a large family and loves living a joyful life! You can book Anne Sadovsky for speaking engagements and learn more at annesadovsky.com.
It’s hard to believe that many Affordable Housing properties are still using paper-based filing systems. With paper filing comes a lot of unnecessary risk. Think about if your property were to experience a fire, flood or any other natural disaster that would result in the loss of documents. There would be no backup or chance of retrieving important files. It’s not just an unexpected disaster that can cause problems. Human errors occur every day and can contribute to the loss of files which is why filing cabinets and paper filing desperately need to be left behind. So why hasn’t everyone moved to electronic document storage and what is the solution?
While it sounds exciting to have technology automatically store documents for you, the thought of moving from paper to electronic can quickly turn that excitement into a state of panic. When you look at your filing cabinets and how much scanning and organizing it would take to transfer them digitally, switching may seem like a time-consuming, no-end-in-sight project. This results in analysis paralysis.
But there are options you can consider when it comes to adopting technology without having to worry about transferring everything over right away. One of the most common approaches is just starting to use technology to store newly created documents online. Don’t stress about all the documents prior to today. If you start today, then annual reporting in 2023 will be a breeze! But if you continue to wait, it will always feel like there’s no end in sight to the pain of paper-based annual reporting.
Should you want to tackle all your old files, treat it as a project you can chip away at. Consider hiring an intern or have your staff dedicate one hour each Friday to scanning and organizing files.
Document Storage Costs Should Not Be A Deterrent
One concern with switching to paperless documents is the ongoing cost of electronic document storage. Document storage plans are not always free, and when looking at the number of documents you create and file on average, that cost can add up quickly. However, when you consider the cost of the space needed to store and time needed to manage paper documents, you will most likely find that storing documents electronically is actually cheaper.
As you are looking for an electronic document storage solution, be sure to compare costs. Some software (like ResMan) comes with unlimited document storage as part of your property management platform subscription, while others charge extra based on volume. If you do go with a volume-based plan, to minimize any initial cost impact, you can simply start by uploading new files. Then, over time, old files will reach their retention limits and you’ll be done with paper documents and filing cabinets for good!
Another benefit of storing documents electronically is being able to move applications and leasing online, which makes operations much smoother for both tenants and for your team. In 2020, HUD approved the use of electronic signatures which cleared the way for Affordable properties and their residents to handle the majority of their paperwork electronically. Electronic signatures eliminate the delay associated with finding a meeting time that works for both the prospective tenant and the onsite team. They reduce the amount of traffic coming into the leasing office, allowing the site staff to focus on other tasks. They have also systematized the application process which produces electronic timestamps to secure positions on waitlists, minimizing the opportunity for discrimination or bias.
The concept of an electronic signature is sometimes confusing for teams initially because folks assume that signing a paper document and scanning it to store electronically makes it an electronic signature. This is NOT the case. Electronic signatures do not involve paper and pen. Instead, documents such as applications and leases are presented to tenants to be signed online through a phone or computer using software that meets specific security requirements.
Lean on Your Provider Software to Support Your Transition
One of the main concerns that arises around switching to online applications, leasing and electronic signatures is getting staff trained and up-to-speed so there aren’t any hiccups. Of course, you want to know your staff are doing things correctly but the idea of training staff for a new tech stack sounds like a feat.
This is where your software provider should step in. Software providers have been transferring documents into digital and working with electronic applications and payments for years within conventional, student housing and military housing. Affordable housing has just been a late adopter. However, it’s clear software providers are experienced and trustworthy. Ask your software provider for help as they know all the guidelines around electronic signatures and electronic documentation and might even have video tutorials to share more information.
Technology is Secure, Efficient, and Effective
Moving your documents, applications, leases, payments and recertifications online will make everything easier for your team and your tenants. Your staff will be well trained with support from your software provider, and should be well-equipped to handle document storage smoothly. Your applicants can apply online andtenants will be able to sign leases for your staff to review much quicker and with little to no hassle, ensuring a more streamlined process.
Additionally, annual reporting season will be a breeze as software can give specific access to auditors so they may access documents electronically, saving staff time from the digging up of documents and back-and-forth emailing. With technology, auditors can do all their tasks remotely instead of at the leasing office.
All in all, technology will enable your property to be more efficient, saving both time and money, as well as decreasing disruptions in your overall operations and annual reporting seasons. And if you’re one of the properties stuck in analysis paralysis, consider the ideas and options suggested above to ensure effective and useful adoption along the way.
Want to stay up to date on the Affordable Housing industry? Like and download our Cocktails & Compliance Podcast.
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.
Last week, the ResMan team headed to National Harbor, Maryland for the first in-person OPTECH event in two years. OPTECH 2021 was hosted at the newly renovated Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just south of Washington D.C. The hotel and convention center made for a large space, covering three floors for sessions and the trade show floor.
Over 2,000 attendees and vendors eagerly arrived Monday evening, all of them excited to see both old and new faces at this year’s event. The first night was a great networking opportunity both in and outside of the trade show floor.
Our Booth at OPTECH 2021
ResMan’s booth featured our dual touch screen demo stations where attendees could experience first-hand how intuitive and easy-to-use our conventional and affordable solutions are, with many taking the lead in demoing the accounting, budgeting, payments, and online leasing capabilities within the comprehensive platform.
Our favorite points of conversation revolved around both old and new features launched here at ResMan. Our popular Credit Builder feature allows residents to report their on-time rental payments to credit bureaus, ensuring their largest monthly payments are rewarded with credit growth. Along with that, we shared our new payments feature which will help property managers collect rent hassle-free. The other eye-catching solution we shared was ResMan Websites, which offers high conversion features such as interactive site maps, virtual tours, neighborhood explorers, and unit-specific floor plans. The best part? There’s no coding knowledge needed. Teams are allowed to easily edit website content on the fly, including videos, photos and text.
The sessions this year were the talk of the conference. NMHC did a wonderful job at providing thought-provoking sessions from knowledgeable leaders in the industry. A majority of conversations revolved around data, technology and the impact of COVID-19 on both businesses and people within property management.
The Keynote speaker, Suneel Gupta, CEO of Rise, concluded Tuesday’s sessions with a particularly insightful conversation around burnout and coping with feelings of failure in the workplace.
“We’ve been told success is a result of hard work and grit,” Suneel remarked. “And yet, if you look at the definitions of grit – relentlessness, instant responsiveness, being always on, doing whatever it takes to win – those are also the same actions that lead to burnout. It suggests employees to see grit and burnout as the path to success.”
$500 Travel Voucher Giveaway
Giveaways and swag are always a fun part of trade shows. We offered a $500 travel voucher giveaway to booth visitors at OPTECH 2021 as a thank you for stopping by. We will be selecting a winner this week and are excited to give out a nice gift that hopefully brings a much-needed chance to disconnect, relax and recharge! If you visited our booth, be sure to check your inbox this week to see if you won!
Wrapping Up A Great Event
It was a fun and exciting week at OPTECH 2021 and we cannot wait for next year’s event. Until then, we’ll be working on enhancements that bring even more efficiencies to our customers in 2022. All in all, NMHC’s OPTECH is a great event and we hope attendees and vendors alike appreciated all of the great content and conversations like we did. Hope to see you in 2022!
If you attended OPTECH and didn’t have the chance to visit our booth or talk to one of our team members, we would love to connect! Simply fill out a form here to chat with one of our experts!
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In case you missed it, ResMan is here to give you the 6 takeaways from NAHMA’s 2021 sessions regarding current conversations about the Affordable Housing Market. Janel Ganim, our Senior Vice President of Product, attended NAHMA October 19-21st for their third virtual conference since COVID-19.
“I know everyone misses the in-person events like I do,” Janel mentioned. “But it’s nice that NAHMA is still prioritizing safety and giving businesses an opportunity to network. They had really good participation. Attendees were actively asking questions and it was clear the engagement was high.”
At NAHMA, there were quite a few topics and conversations discussed around the current state of the Affordable market. Some were centered around new, pressing topics for Affordable, as COVID has continued to play a role in how the government is supporting the industry as a whole. Other topics were a continuation of previous conversations, expanding on problems and pain points with updates and new solutions. The most notable topics include:
Emergency rental assistance plans
Average Income Test and the IRS’ timeline on final regulations
Vaccine mandates for government employees/contractors
Supply chain disruption and staffing shortages
TRACS 203A update
Emotional assistance and de-escalation training for property staff
Emergency Rental Assistance Updates
Emergency rental assistance has been one of the consistent topics of discussion within the Affordable housing industry, especially around states who are struggling to get their funds distributed. Currently, the Treasure department is looking at underperforming (meaning less than a third of their funds have been distributed) grantees to see if they can create a sort of performance plan.
Right now, they’re considering reallocating funds to high-performing grantees who have distributed a lot of their money and might be looking for more funds. The Treasury Department stated they are trying to have all plans in place by the end of 2021.
Average Income Test
The Affordable Housing industry still waiting for a final rule from the IRS regarding the Average Income Test. The industry is still “business as usual” with their interpretation of the rule, which doesn’t necessarily align with the initial guidance put forth by the IRS since fixed unit income designations could in some cases conflict with other regulations (e.g. fair housing).
However, it is worth noting the IRS desperately needs to finalize the regulation with the new tax bill on the horizon which will undoubtedly take up majority of the IRS’ time. Hopefully, final guidance around average income test will be wrapped up and released soon.
Many attendees were asking about the new vaccine mandates for government employees and contractors and how this will apply to REAC inspectors. The short answer is REAC inspectors will be required to be vaccinated eventually. However, it sounds like it might take a while for vaccine mandates around REAC inspectors to roll out.
These mandates will also apply to government contractors such as project-based contract administrators who are monitoring contracts on behalf of HUD properties. Now those organizations are asking “What does this mean for me and my staff? How long do I have before I have to put this mandate in place?”
HUD did say they are looking to provide some guidance on that soon, but for now there is no timeline. The contracts in place for those PBCAs expire January 31st so HUD is working on an extension. However, they’re also going to address the mandate for vaccinations as a part of that guidance, too.
Supply Chain Disruption and Staffing Shortages
One of the biggest discussions during NAHMA’s 2021 sessions included the continued suffering in the industry due to supply chain disruption and staffing shortages. Many raised concerns about not being able to find people to work. From property managers to maintenance to even contract workers, there is a low supply of available workers out there. It’s not a salary issue at this point, either. Even with offering signing bonuses and other benefits, Affordable Housing properties are simply struggling to find qualified people.
It should be noted that government vaccine mandates are not the only reason or even the main reason for these shortages. Vaccine mandates might be affecting some areas with staffing shortages more than others. 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, a record high in the 21st century for the United States, so staffing shortages are happening in other industries, too.
Due to wage increases, a need for materials, and an increase in insurance, HUD staff are being told to expect budget-based rent increase requests to offset some of the costs that have been hurting operations. This speaks to the detrimental effects of shortages in supply chain and staffing. Properties’ concerns with shortages include the impact on the quality of housing for existing residents as routine maintenance and repairs aren’t able to get done in a timely manner. The shortage also impacts the speed at which properties can turn units, which leads to greater vacancy loss.
Timing on the TRACS (Tenant Rental Assistance Certification System) 203-A release has been a running joke – it’s been expected “soon” for what seems like an eternity. It seems like soon might finally be upon us, as HUD staff indicated they were wrapping up paperwork and ready for implementation in 2022. Software vendors showed concern as they need to know what those updates are, and need some lead time to make necessary product updates and roll them out to the industry. Typically, understanding the specs, updating code, and testing those changes is a three-to-six-month process.
HUD responded saying they were under the impression this was being communicated, but it turns out most of the software industry wasn’t aware of the timeline until the same week NAHMA’s 2021 sessions took place. Shortly after the conference, HUD sent out an email for a November 15th meeting to further discuss the TRACS 203A timeline.
Emotional Assistance and De-escalation Training
The Affordable industry has consistently spoken about the impact COVID has had on staff at properties and their ability to better engage with residents and maintain operations with online tools. The conversation shifted a bit toward residents and their mental health. After a recent shooting leaving two staff members dead, many are speaking up about the heavy increase in gang activity, police calls, domestic violence, and suicides in HUD properties.
Because of this, multiple management companies said they have implemented new training programs for their staff such as active-shooter training, suicide prevention training, and de-escalation training. Other properties are also brainstorming ideas to better support staff and residents. Some have created team member assistance hotlines as well as providing staff with walkie talkies that are on the same frequency as on-site security. Some suggested shelter-in-place plans and adding back doors to offices for necessary escape.
It’s unfortunate that crime rates are increasing at all, but what we’re seeing is consistent with the general decay in mental health and an increase in anger-related incidents in restaurants, airports and even entertainment venues. All in all, there will be an increase in safety features at HUD properties in the near future.
To hear more in-depth Affordable updates from NAHMA’s 2021 sessions, watch our latest Affordable Updates Webinar here.