PHAs that commit to serving households who have been homeless and/or who have special needs find the most effective way to do so is in partnership with local service providers. There are a number of ways that PHAs can ask service providers to support them in ensuring that these households receive access to HCVs and remain stably housed.
Make Referrals to the PHA Waitlist
PHAs can invite service providers to refer households to their waitlists. By doing so, your PHA can ensure that your resources are reaching households who are homeless and/or have special needs that meet your waitlist preferences. Service partners can also improve access for those who need your resources most while also providing additional third-party support and information during the application process.
Provide Assistance with Applications and Briefings
How much time does your PHA spend going back and forth with applicants to fill in missing information and/or track down documentation? Why not teach a service provider about your application requirements and ask them to help? You can customize your agreements with service partners so that they can assist applicants in collecting supporting documentation and submitting complete applications. PHAs that have service partners help applicants fill out forms receive complete applications that take far less time to process. Service partners can also attend briefings and help pass out paperwork and manage large groups.
Provide Housing Search Assistance and Services to Landlords
Service providers can help households navigate housing search by finding vacant units, providing transportation and negotiating with landlords. Providing support during housing search means knowing you’re helping voucher holders move into housing as fast as possible and expediting your PHA’s lease-up rate.
PHA service partners can also support landlords. PHAs want to know that the voucher holders they send into the rental market are going to be good tenants. In the same way that your PHA will feel more comfortable with a referral from a provider, landlords will be thrilled to know there is someone that they can call if their tenant is at risk of losing his or her housing.
There are many good models of “landlord liaison” projects around the country that serve people with various housing subsidies. Ask your local Continuum of Care if one exists in your area or talk with them about starting one.
Learn HQS and Conduct Pre-Inspections
Housing authorities can share their Housing Quality Standards (HQS) with nonprofit organizations that help homeless families or individuals find apartments. These providers can then conduct informal pre-inspections to ensure that apartments are likely to pass the formal HQS inspections carried out by the PHA. Pre-inspecting apartments will help to expedite participants’ move-in dates and reduce PHA time spent on re-inspections.
Provide Supportive Services for Participants
Once housed, service partners can work with PHAs to help ensure that participants have the supports they need to remain stably housed. To the extent possible, the provision of supportive services should be customized with the needs of tenants in mind. Supportive services are intended to help ensure housing stability and to maximize each tenant’s ability to live independently. Some examples include case management, mental health services, financial management, employment and senior services. For a comprehensive list of the services that you may want to access for your HCV participants click here.
Go to the next section to learn about how to get started with partners and stakeholders.