Agency: The Anaheim Housing Authority (AHA) and
the Orange County Social Service Agency (OCSSA)
(Size of WtW Program: 700 vouchers)
The Anaheim Housing Authority (AHA) is one of several housing agencies
located in Orange County, California. In the initial WtW allocation,
AHA received 700 WtW vouchers from HUD. Like other agencies, AHA
then faced the challenge of leasing-up 100 percent of these vouchers
while also establishing a support system to assist WtW families
in finding and maintaining employment.
Solution: Partnering with Local TANF Agency
About the same time that AHA received the WtW vouchers, AHA's local
TANF agency, Orange County Social Service Agency (OCCSA), received
block grant funding for self-sufficiency services for county residents.
AHA and OCSSA decided to reach their mutual goal of helping Anaheim
residents move to self-sufficiency by joining their resources and
At the beginning of the partnership, representatives from both
agencies discussed and ultimately agreed upon a way to merge their
resources to make a successful WtW program. The agencies never created
a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), but the partnership
remains strong. Communication between the partners is ongoing and
continues to contribute to the success of the program.
Steps to Partnership Success
It can be very challenging to take two separate agencies, with
objectives and skill sets, and develop one set of procedures to
achieve the same, mutual goal. Program leaders from both agencies
attribute their successful partnership to the following key steps:
- Set a mutual goal and vision.
Engage staff and contract partners.
- The agencies' representatives agreed to leave all other issues
"at the door" and focus only on the WtW program's
success. This kept the representatives from getting caught up
on other issues and programs in which they might be mutually
interested but have differing thoughts and opinions. This approach
has saved time and helped preserve goodwill throughout the partnership.
- AHA made its eligibility requirements for WtW the same as
TANF requirements to simplify the referral process between the
agencies and to demonstrate both agencies' agreement on the
basic selection criteria.
- OCCSA employed additional staff to handle the added work required
by the WtW vouchers. Some of these new employees were contracted
from the community to provide case management and other related
activities, such as direct referral and community outreach.
- AHA provided training sessions to staff at OCCSA about the
WtW and housing choice voucher programs. These sessions explained
why it's so beneficial to families to receive a voucher and
addressed the procedures families follow to obtain a voucher.
In addition to communicating the purpose of the WtW vouchers,
the training sessions have an added bonus of making the OCCSA
staff informed advocates of housing issues, which enables them
to speak about housing issues to community groups and partner
- AHA also "staffed-up" to handle the increased workload.
Currently AHA administers 6100 vouchers and employs a staff
of 65. To handle the increased WtW caseload, the agency dedicates
10 staff to WtW responsibilities.
Generate staff enthusiasm.
- OCCSA developed a liaison to work with AHA on the WtW program.
The liaison position allows the agencies to quickly and easily
- Developing and maintaining the partnership takes lots of work
and effort from both agencies. By encouraging their staff to
be "cheerleaders" of the program, the agencies have
found that the WtW program benefits from the added energy and
momentum of staff.
- To keep staff enthusiastic about the program, the agencies
send out monthly reminders of program goals, successes, and
- To keep staff informed and engaged, AHA and OCCSA regularly
and frequently disseminate information about the program to
all staff at both agencies. This also maintains WtW as a priority.
Agreeing Upon Key Procedures
AHA and OCCSA worked together to develop procedures for implementing
the program, and both assisted in revising the procedures, as needed.
Some of these procedures include the following:
- The agencies agreed that OCCSA would screen applicants and determine
eligibility for the program. In order to speed the transfer of
information while keeping a relatively simple process, the agencies
implemented a direct referral system that is paper-driven.
- OCCSA provides a computer link to AHA so that AHA can electronically
access the amount of TANF benefits a family receives during the
reexamination process. This streamlines the verification process,
making it more efficient.
- OCCSA administers case management to WtW participants. OCCSA
maintains four district offices, each serving a region of the
county (north, east, south, and west). Two of the agencies have
in-house WtW case managers, and the other two offices have contracted
staff to handle WtW case management.
- To encourage lease-up, OCCSA contracted case managers to go
out into the community and provide outreach to landlords and seminars
to families. These case managers also answered questions and helped
- Through its own staff and its contracted partners, OCCSA provides
ongoing client supportive services and works with the client to
achieve self-sufficiency. Also OCCSA provides housing search assistance,
landlord outreach, and job retention services to WtW program participants.
- AHA hosted a celebration luncheon for WtW staff at both agencies.
The luncheon ensured that the successful collaboration would continue
and allowed people to meet, exchange ideas, and "put names
This partnership created a win-win situation by allowing both agencies
to achieve their goals. In addition, welfare recipients received
the benefit of coordinated, seamless services. Not only does this
partnership enable eligible families to quickly receive needed housing
stability, but it also provides WtW families with access to supportive
Specifically, this partnership has led to several measurable successes,
including the following:
- AHA has doubled the size of its WtW program from 700 to 1400.
As a result of this achievement, their overall Housing Choice
Voucher Program utilization rate has increased to about 98 percent.
- AHA received "The Best of the Best" Award from the
City of Anaheim for their ability to lease so many needy families
in a tight rental market.
- About 31 percent of AHA's WtW participants have "graduated"
from receiving direct TANF assistance.
- Both agencies spoke by invitation at a national conference on
Housing and TANF Policy Issues, sponsored by the Center
for Budget and Policy Priorities. The agencies presented their
strategies for an effective partnership, stressing the need for
high levels of commitment and resources by both agencies. You
can view the PowerPoint
presentation staff used to illustrate this process in PDF
format. (Adobe PDF, 5 pages)
Contact: Ms. Vicky Cooke, Anaheim
Housing Authority, (714) 765-4320,
Ms. Pauline Notch, Orange County Social Service Agency, (714) 435-7897
Source: Onsite interviews with
AHA staff; WtW Teleconference, August 22, 2002