Bringing Affordable Housing Into The Twenty-First Century With Digitized Resident Services
State housing agencies actively promote the vital combination of affordable housing and supportive services tailored to specific resident populations through their administration of the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Currently, 44 states require LIHTC developers to provide housing enriched with resident services. In addition, many local housing agencies, bond issuers, and affordable housing grant providers require that services are provided to residents, in order to comply with their financing programs.
Resident services are usually provided on-site with at least one staff member dedicated to their coordination and delivery. Typical on-site services include health and educational programs, financial literacy, and homeownership preparation. Services must be made available to residents in a private, confidential setting and be free of charge. Unfortunately for most communities, providing resident services within these parameters is expensive, straining operating budgets and causing pending projects to fail underwriting standards.
As the core of these programs is based on getting information into the hands of residents, the key to providing a successful resident services program is delivery. Due to the evolution of technology and declining cost of Internet access, a large percentage of the population is now connected online. Through an online platform, residents can access services, obtain information, and connect with their community on their own time frame; thereby, creating the ultimate delivery method for successful resident services programs.
Reducing Poor Event Attendance
Managing a robust resident services program is a daunting task. A vital component of affordable housing compliance is to provide a comprehensive suite of information and resources; however, creating a schedule for informational events that residents will attend remains a complex issue. Taking into consideration residents’ active lifestyles, families working multiple jobs, and children’s activity schedules, it is nearly impossible to achieve a good attendance record for any on-site program.
Technology-based communication channels can be leveraged to reduce the burden of costly, poorly attended on-site programs. Due to their communicative nature, digital platforms have become one of the most reliable ways to encourage and maintain resident engagement. Technology provides multiple avenues for communication and discussion, which can greatly reduce overall costs and boost attendance levels when used in lieu of traditional, in-person programs. Additionally, web-based programs allow residents to participate no matter their schedule or location.
Distributing Resources Effectively
Cloud computing opens up a universe of new, conceivable outcomes for property managers and residents alike. In fact, most businesses, educational systems, and government agencies are now leveraging some type of cloud-based technology, allowing seamless access to important data. With a web-based software platform in place, management teams can expedite the traditionally fragmented process of outreach, eliminating labor costs and allowing more dollars to be pushed into operating budgets.
With conflicting schedules leading the reasons why residents fail to attend resident service programs, the solution for renters clearly lies in digital Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. These platforms can host data centrally in the cloud for Internet-enabled users to access. It’s become an increasingly common means for forward-thinking communities to host various resident resources and information online.
Promoting Online Learning
The high adoption rate of online learning proves that most people are able and willing to access educational materials on the web. With the ability to set your own pace for accomplishment, online education is alluring to multiple age and income demographics. Online educational programs boast lower costs, increased convenience and flexibility, and a more comfortable and focused learning environment.
Educational content can be delivered “On-Demand” through well-organized resources, video galleries, and content . Topics such as health, finance, and parenting can be easily accessed on the Internet at the convenience of your residents. Using “mash-up” technology, interactive maps can also deliver information for nearby child care, elementary schools, doctors, and more. Finally, hyper-local content can be produced through event calendars, blogs, and internal message systems, then distributed through property-specific social media channels, feeds, and push notifications.
The reasons for the success of digital resident services is clear. Online resident programs allow residents to access content at their own convenience, participate from the comfort of their own home, and stick to their already regimented schedules. Through the power of web-based platforms, we can reach more residents, deliver more information, and transform outdated programs into a modern, twenty-first century solution.
Download our Industry Study on Delivering Resident Services in Affordable Multifamily Housing.