Many Public Housing Authority's (PHA) nationwide take part in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program which is a voluntary program that assists residents within Housing Authority programs to become financially independent of welfare programs.
For Housing Authorities that take part in this program, the process to manage it includes the following:
As mentioned in previous articles, a majority of Public Housing residents are accessing the internet via mobile devices, and there is a real opportunity to leverage technology to manage FSS programs efficiently. Here are some suggestions and online technologies that can help.
Initial Candidate Assessments
Every PHA seems to be different when it comes to doing an initial evaluation, but a majority start with a fillable PDF on their website of just a Microsoft Word application that the candidate has to fax or email in. One alternative is to create a form on your website that captures this information and emails it to designated individuals or teams. With most website Content Management Systems (CMS) and online form generation services, you can create forms where entries are accessible via the CMS or Form service management dashboard.
If you are adventurous, you can also look at App building services like Knack that can build forms for you that hook into a custom application you develop that manages FSS cases. Now, most housing management applications do some FSS management, but it does not include access to residents who can keep track of their progress as well.
Individual Training and Services Plan (ITSP)
Once resident signs on for the FSS program, then the PHA will develop an ITSP for the resident. Usually, this is a paper document that the FSS representative with the PHA writes up a plan and reviews it with the resident on a regular basis via an in-person meeting. I would not advocate replacing the in-person meetings as this is still very critical even in the golden age of technology, but you can use technology to allow the resident to get regular notifications of their progress and be able to in real-time access what they need to do next. An online application the resident can access via a computer or their mobile device would be critical. As mentioned, you can use a technology like Knack to develop an application or use an online collaboration tool like Asana to managed the ITSP plan. With Asana, you can create a project that includes the resident, and they can access the online application via a phone and get notifications via email from it as well.
The applications mentioned above will help you manage the ongoing relationship with the FSS participant. You would be able to upload documents that the member can view anytime; you can notify the participant of any updates as well. You can also use one of these applications to notify the PHA resident of the balance of the Escrow account. Maybe this could be another way to motivate the participant to keep up with the program as the member can look up what their balance is at any given time. Notifications via these applications can be accomplished without providing any critical personal information.
With the recent changes in administration, there could be significant changes to PHA budgets. With that, it could be even more important to try and make the process of managing the FSS programs more efficient, and I believe the use of more online technologies could make FSS Administrators jobs a lot easier.
Here are links to the online applications that we mentioned above. Full disclosure, EnlightWorks a partner of Knack and Weebly, but this is because we have tried various other App building programs, and this one is the easiest and most reliable for our clients.
Asana (Online collaboration tool): https://app.asana.com/
Knack: https://www.knack.com/signup/?ref=EnlightWorks Apps
Forms (Type Form): https://www.typeform.com/
Forms (Wufoo): https://www.wufoo.com/
WebsiteCMS: Weebly Sign Up
This is the time of the year where we explore the web design trends for 2017. The following is an article with recommendations for your website and a very informative infograph developed by a web designer/podcaster out of Chicago (The Deep End) that we respect greatly on what the web design trends could look like for 2017.
A lot of the recommendations we make are based of the need to accomedate the way a majority of people visit websites. With over half of all internet users accessing websites via mobile devices, it is even more important to make sure your website can be viewed on multiple platforms.
The following are suggestions that are possible with our platform (Weebly).
For more details, please see the following Weebly article: www.weebly.com/blog/refresh-your-site-for-2017
For larger trends to expect for 2017, here is an inforgraph from The Deep End with what to expect for 2017.
More Housing Authority Website Visitors Are Mobile Users
If you speak with any housing authority web designer these days, you will likely hear of the virtues of mobile website design. An increasing number of people are looking up information on their smartphones instead of a traditional desktop. Your company’s website needs to be easily readable from mobile devices to take advantage of all the associated benefits.
Improve Customer Experience
Mobile friendly web design for housing authorities is crucial because individuals looking for a new place to buy or rent may look up information on the go from their smartphones. If your website if impossible to navigate effectively from these devices, then people are going to look elsewhere for the same service. Potential clients are not likely to wait until they get home to look up your business. A housing authority web designer only gets one chance to make a first impression, and you want to make sure it counts regardless of where your website is being accessed.
Achieve Higher Google Search Ranking
Responsive web design for housing authorities is also important so prospective clients can find your business in the first place. Google search engine rankings are based on how responsive websites are. Sites that take a long time to download onto a mobile device are going to appear lower on Google’s results page. Even if your website appears on the second page, that may not be good enough to acquire new business.
Enhance Efficiency on Your End
Creating a website for desktops and a separate site for smartphones is not the most efficient practice. The reason is that when you have to update your site, you have to update it twice for both devices. By creating responsive website design, you just need to update once, and your website will look great on anything.
As mobile devices become more accessible, more people are going to rely on them for finding housing. If you require assistance developing your mobile presence, then see what a housing authority web designer can do for you.
The following are the "reads" of the week we have read and helped with our ongoing education in the world of Web Design and Graphic Design. We hope that some of these articles will be helpful to our San Francisco Bay Area clients and clients nationwide.
How Can Small Businesses Compete with Large Businesses in SEO
The following is a video from Moz's (SEO Experts) Whiteboard Friday series from Moz founder Rand Fishkin. I encourage you to check it out on a weekly basis if you are interested in SEO. This session, Rand discusses how a small business can compete against larger businesses within the world of SEO. Essentially he states small businesses can take advantages of there size and ability to be more flexible to compete against the big boys. See the video here:
Google Begins Mobile First Indexing
From searchengineland.com, they came out with an article that talks about how Google has started using (Testing) mobile content first in ranking and indexing websites. This article is further proof that the way most people access the internet is shifting from the desktop to the mobile device. If you have a "Responsive" website that can be seen on any device, you would not have to make any changes. Even if you have a desktop only view-able website, this new feature will still be able to index you. This is again in a testing phase that Google will try out over the next few months, but this could be a sign of things to come. To learn more about this, please see the following article:
Changes To Local Search Results After Latest Google Search Update
Again from searchengineland.com, they came out with an article that discusses Google's latest algorithm update (Possum). They say that 64% of local listings changed after the update. They are not 100% sure, since Google's algorithms have gotten more complex over the past couple of years. To learn more, please go the following article:
4 LinkedIn Tips for Better Prospecting
Here is an article from the Social Media Examiner that discusses the 4 best ways to prospect using LinkedIn. This artiles discussed how to use LinkedIn's ProFinder service, use third party tools, nurture relationships and how to use LinkedIn data in your own CRM.
Adobe Reveals New Features for Photoshop CC 2017
Here at EnlightWorks, we were not able to attend Adobe Max's conference held this week in San Diego, but there was plenty of available online content available with highlights from the convention. Here is an article from Creative Bloq that discusses the new changes to Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 (Which we use a lot of here at EnlightWorks):
Breaking Down Boundaries with Art
From Adobe's Create Magazine, Artist Janet Echelman discusses how she uses her public art in city settings to breakdown barriers between people.
All The Best Stuff Released At Adobe Max For Web Designers
As mentioned before, Adobe Max happened this week in San Diego. From Web Designer Depot, here are the hightlights for Web Designers from Adobe Max.