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/
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