Have you ever taken a drive around the area and appreciated the many houses on your route? Housing is extremely diverse, leading to neighborhoods and cities teeming with a variety of builds from multi-family homes to ranches to giant apartment complexes and everything in between. Having a space to live is not only a fundamental human right, it is also a right of passage. We all remember our first time living outside of the family home, be it in a college dorm or an apartment. Regardless of what the house looks like, it’s your safe place to unwind and spend time with family and friends.
Housing is not always easy to come by, particularly for those with lower income. Luckily, the United States has Housing Authorities across the country that can help everyone find a home. Housing Authorities are Government agencies committed to ensuring that all residents in a community have access to the housing they need and deserve. They provide assistance through either housing vouchers or through apartments in complexes owned by the Housing Agency itself. It can be a real challenge to keep track of all the data, so Housing Authorities are turning to technology for help. One of the most beneficial solutions is OnBase by Hyland Software. Let’s take a look at the many ways OnBase for Housing Authorities is changing the game.
But first, what are the major problems?
Housing Authorities are most well-known for the Government-subsidized housing they offer. It’s a complex system that assists millions of Americans each year. Housing Authorities own apartment complexes that are built specifically to house those with lower incomes or other qualifying conditions. It’s a lifesaving program, but it does not come without its challenges. Housing Authorities are also responsible for Section 8, a housing program that provides vouchers to tenants who qualify to search for and rent market-provided housing. As more states and cities hunt for Housing Authority solutions, these are typically at the top of mind.
- Large quantities of document filing. There are millions of documents passed through Housing Authorities on a yearly basis. There is quite a lengthy and involved process to first get accepted, and there are yearly “filings” each year after to ensure qualifications have not changed. There is a constant need for a Housing Authority solution that can manage huge volumes of data effectively. Without a digital solution, the staff is expected to keep track of all documents manually. As you would imagine, this can be a messy and unreliable way to go about things. The last thing anyone wants is a slow process that keeps families out of the homes they deserve, so a proper solution is needed that can speed things up without dropping quality control.
- Need for accurate recording and tracking. Once all that data is in the system and accounted for, there needs to be a way to track it and keep records of families, individuals, and apartments. Again, doing this by hand as it always has been done is not going to be very efficient. We briefly mentioned that people must file for housing at least once per year. The documents for each person are cumulative, meaning it all has to remain accessible. These records are used to determine if a family is still qualified, keep an eye on income changes, note any changes within the household, and track behavior to ensure the individual has been a historically good tenant. As these files grow year over year, it’s unfeasible to expect them to live in a filing cabinet, folder, or even a legacy digital system.
- Storing securing information. In addition to the quantity of data Housing Authority solutions must hold, they also need to keep them secure. As with many Government agencies, the data coming in from the public is filled with sensitive personal information. For example, when applying for public housing, people have to submit their income information, social security number, personal/identifying information about themselves and anyone in the household, and more. They are trusting the Government to protect their data from those with nefarious plans. A Housing Authority solution must keep these documents safely tucked away and only accessible to those with proper authorization.
- Maintaining the properties. Let’s not forget the work on the back end of the system – managing the properties. After all, they are Government facilities, and Housing Authorities are responsible for their maintenance and upkeep. These things must also be tracked and recorded throughout the lifetime of an apartment, condo, building, or facility. Data must be kept for bill payments, repairs needed and repairs made, cleaning, landscaping, renovations, etc. You can keep track of your single household manually, but things will start to fall through the cracks if the Housing Authority was expected to manage all their numbers, bills, and appointments by hand. Successful Housing Authority solutions involve some automation as well as intelligent data tracking with filters, organization options, and other ways to manage the copious amounts of information.
- Citizens must be able to find Section 8 housing. For those utilizing Section 8, there must be a way to hunt for available rental properties. Some people do not have access to a computer, and some landlords do not offer housing to those with a voucher. Landlords are not required to accept the voucher, meaning not all available apartments in the area are actually available to the voucher holder. It can be a major challenge to hunt down and ultimately rent a Section 8 apartment, causing headaches and frustration throughout the process. A Housing Authority solution should make the hunt easier by keeping track of Section 8 landlords, notifying potential tenants of openings, and generally assisting voucher holders to find a place to live.
OnBase for Housing Authorities – A Multi-Faceted Solution
We have good news – all of the aforementioned challenges can be overcome (or at least helped dramatically) with OnBase by Hyland Software. OnBase is an Enterprise Content Management system with several employable modules that can be configured to best suit Housing Authorities. With OnBase, Housing Authorities can overcome their most time-consuming challenges and get on track to a more productive and efficient process.
- Manage large quantities of documents with ease. OnBase can handle files large and small and in nearly any quantity. OnBase for Housing Authorities is typically housed in the cloud, meaning there is essentially unlimited space to expand into as needed. Documents can be uploaded and stored in the cloud, organized as your organization sees fit, and managed throughout the application process. There is no lagging or slowdowns even if you have hundreds of thousands of documents stored. Housing Authority solutions must be able to keep up with the workload, particularly in the busy seasons of re-application. OnBase makes it possible to accept all necessary documents without fear of clogging up the pipeline.
- Organize data for quick recall and accurate year-over-year review. OnBase for Housing Authorities offers so many options for organizing and filtering through data that is stored in the system. For Housing Authorities, this means records can be easily updated and viewed at any time. Simply filter by location, name, years in the program, or whatever other data points make it easy to locate the files you’re looking for. As applicants submit year-over-year, it doesn’t have to be a struggle to organize their files, find important information, or have access to all comparison documents at one time.
- Protect information with encryption and top-notch security features. No Housing Authority solution has a chance at success if it is not secure. As we mentioned, there is a lot of sensitive information that must be protected from anyone outside of the system. OnBase safeguards each file with encryption, multi-factor verification, and other optional safety measures so that applicants can feel confident when submitting their applications. OnBase complies with rigorous Government protection standards for all documents. Only authorized users can access files, and they are never shared.
- Automate workflows to request maintenance, monitor appointment calendars, and manage contracts. OnBase workflows can help to automate a typically lengthy and involved process. By combining OnBase for Housing Authorities with existing business applications, you can create a workflow that automates the more tedious processes. For example, you can build a workflow that automatically notifies a party of when a facility needs routine maintenance or inspection. You can also utilize OnBase to digitally track appointments and schedules automatically, as well as maintain all contracts simply. OnBase works behind the scenes to keep things organized and keep your team on track. When left to our own devices, appointments might be missed, deadlines might be forgotten, or errors could be made in inputting or tracking data. OnBase takes the guesswork out by automating the process and alerting the necessary party in a timely, reliable manner.
- Automate the Section 8 process to assist the public in finding a home. Lastly, OnBase can be used to automate the hunt for Section 8 housing. Various states and districts have their own method of doing so, but many include databases of Section 8 homes and the ability to search for filters that meet your needs. You can take this Housing Authority solution one step further by automating the process entirely. With the help of Robotic Process Automation, OnBase can play matchmaker and automatically display the Section 8 homes that meet an applicant’s needs. This will save them hours of time searching, and will build a positive rapport with the Housing Authority for later interactions.
It’s clear that OnBase for Housing Authorities is an excellent solution option. OnBase is extremely configurable, so it can be tweaked to fit your exact needs. ImageSoft has been a Platinum reseller of OnBase for over 25 years, and we have a team dedicated to helping customers design, implement, and troubleshoot their solution. If you’re interested in learning more about what we can do for Housing Authorities, please visit https://imagesoftinc.com/government/housing-and-humanservices/. Feel free to reach out to our team for a more in-depth discussion, to set up a demo, or to ask a question or two.