Homelessness cannot be solved in a day. It takes countless small, thoughtful, and organized steps (in the form of various services, programs, and legislation) to reduce homelessness rates by even a few percentage points.
To address homelessness effectively, agencies must carefully commit resources to its management and eradication. This takes cumulative efforts over years and demands a focused commitment to quality reporting.
But from navigating complex regulations and funding requirements to dealing with high tenant turnover and limited resources, public housing agency work can be difficult and demanding.
Between managing different case types for anything from Section 8 Housing to Shelter Plus Care, to securing funding through programs like HOME, housing agencies have their hands full. With the ever-increasing demand for housing and a strained budget, it's no wonder so many cities and states are feeling overwhelmed trying to provide solutions.
Unfortunately, this often leads to lengthy wait times and frustrated members of the community as they try to access services or seek resolution on issues such as eviction or tenant rights.
Today we’ll explore some of the common challenges faced by affordable housing directors when it comes to case management, and offer some advice on creating a comprehensive solution that works for everyone involved — tenants, landlords, service providers and government workers alike.
Automated intake makes housing case management service faster and more effective
One of the major issues faced by housing agencies is the challenge of tracking and managing each individual case from intake all the way to resolution. When dealing with a high volume of unique cases, it can be difficult to manage all of them in an efficient manner.
When automating a housing program workflow, the first step is almost always to improve the way the data enters into the system. Automated intake solutions are one way that you can help streamline this process.
For instance, a Rental Registry (like the ones we built for Los Angeles County and for San Francisco) is a foundational program that takes information about properties and their owners and tenants via a web portal or app portal.
By automating this process, via tenant or homeowner logins, you can transform the way housing case management works in your agency:
- Better accuracy — Automation allows your team and other authorized stakeholders to see an accurate representation of tenant units and affordable housing units within your purview, so you can identify trends faster. In addition, automated systems (like the 3Di Engage Rental Registry) help eliminate inconsistencies or out-of-date data because they eliminate the issue of data silos that come from cobbled software systems or paper-based recording.
- More efficient use of labor — Since automation frees up time that would otherwise be spent on repetitive or mundane tasks, it gives staff members more time to focus on providing support services and other higher-impact work.
- Convenient access to data — With a cloud-based case management solution, your team can access important information from anywhere, so staff members can pull up key data when needed (for anything from inspections to court hearings).
- Easier automation of complex case workflows — once a tenant is in the system, you can automate unique and complicated workflows, so cases can be processed and resolved in a fraction of the time. A tool with business process mapping can help you graphically model your processes for better visibility and improvement.
Please note: Traditional, linear workflows that most software systems can automate aren’t always effective in housing, so it helps to look for solutions with Adaptive Case Management. These solutions allow you to apply automation to complex workflows where the steps aren’t always linear or even known in advance.
Once the workflows start of course, you need a way for all parties involved in each case to communicate and share information and files in a single place. With the right software, this type of collaboration is a breeze.
Improve communication between stakeholders
A common issue faced by public housing agencies is communication between stakeholders such as tenants, landlords, and service providers over their respective rights and responsibilities under the law, such as during eviction proceedings or tenant disputes.
This lack of clarity often leads to misunderstandings, which further complicate already-long wait times for services like relocation assistance or rent subsidies.
To address this problem, many cities have implemented case management solutions with communication tools (such as the solution we provided for the Alameda Housing Authority), which allow users from different stakeholder groups to:
- Communicate securely with one another through a centralized platform, simplifying processes like rent reporting, tenant petitions, tenancy terminations, and capital improvement program applications.
- Easily submit, review, and process applications online, or access contracts as needed (without needing to request documents from another party)
- Send notifications to update tenants via email or SMS
- View correspondence history organized by case, contact, and related assets
All these features help ensure better coordination between parties involved in each case, leading to faster resolution times and greater clarity for all stakeholders.
With intake and collaboration made easier however, you still need to show the results of your program so you can improve your efforts and build a case for appropriate funding. That’s where reporting comes in.
Automated reporting helps track budgets, assess program effectiveness, and secure funding
A case management tool with reporting and analysis features will help you quickly view detailed reports to draw insights, track budgets, and submit more compelling funding requests.
With customizable reports, your agency or department can:
- Easily access data on program performance such as occupancy rates, wait times, and tenant satisfaction levels, and make informed decisions about how best to allocate resources for maximum effectiveness. Review big-picture overviews, or dive deep into detailed analysis as needed.
- Get real-time insights into program costs and outcomes, allowing you to quickly identify areas of potential savings or growth opportunities.
- Make a stronger case for funding — By using these reports to demonstrate progress towards goals set in grant applications or other types of funding requests, you can be better equipped to seek out additional funds.
For example, with the reporting tools we provided to Mountain View, CA, housing staff can quickly create detailed reports for city management. Likewise, the solution we deployed for the Berkeley, CA Rent Board gives them the information they need to make informed decisions related to their rent ordinance.
An all-in-one solution for affordable housing case management
From rental registry and reporting to adaptive case management (and all your unique needs that arise in between), the 3Di Engage platform is designed to meet you where you are.
3Di’s prebuilt solutions are easily customizable to provide only the services you need, eliminating costly development fees to work with your budget. Solutions can be deployed in as quickly as a few weeks, so there’s no waiting around to get started.
Learn how you can streamline your case management processes and more with a free demo of 3Di Engage.