The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) recognized the need to assist Housing Choice Voucher Program applicants during the application and screening process. A large number of the PHA’s applicants are homeless and live in shelters. These applicants had a hard time keeping appointment times through the voucher process. Rather than penalizing people for missing appointments, they figured out a way to change their own procedures to make it easier for people who need assistance.
BHA works closely with homeless advocacy agencies to establish flexible appointment times for households who are homeless, setting aside blocks of time during normal business hours to facilitate the application and screening process for housing advocates and their clients. In addition, BHA staff members are flexible in scheduling individual appointments to accommodate clients and their advocates.
BHA says this type of cooperation between Housing Authorities and advocacy agencies doesn’t cost them anything. It only requires a willingness to work collaboratively. In fact, the new way of handling appointments ultimately saves staff time because it allows staff to more efficiently process applications and complete the screening process.
BHA offers this advice to other PHAs who may be interested in trying something similar, “We have found the more open communication is with the housing community the better results we see when trying to screen persons for eligibility. PHAs should educate the housing advocacy agencies in your area as to what documents you require and what a client should expect at a screening appointment. The more information you can share regarding the process the better your outcomes will be.”
Learn more about BHA’s Program, view documents they used to implement the program, and learn from other PHAs on CSH’s PHA Webpage and in our PHA Toolkit.