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Technical Assistance Initiative - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Freson Housing Authority
 -   Using Housing Fairs for Effective Lease-up
 -   Addressing Program Challenges
 -   Results
 -   Contact

Fresno (CA) Housing Authority:
using partnerships and housing fairs to lease-up

Fresno is a joint city-county housing authority with over 8,000 Section 8 units. Its WtW award of 1,400 WtW vouchers - 700 for the County and 700 for the City - represents a 33 percent increase in overall program size. Senior management immediately recognized that additional staff was needed to implement the program. Because of the lengthy nature of the hiring process, temporary staff was hired in addition to new permanent staff members. In all, eleven employees joined the team, and an intensive training program began.

A key factor in Fresno's leasing success was its effort to collaborate with community agencies to identify potentially eligible WtW families. For a number of years, Fresno HA has been collaborating with community agencies and sharing resources/information to learn how to better meet their area's affordable housing needs. Their primary partner for WtW is the Department of Employment and Temporary Assistance (Human Services).

One of the first things they accomplished together was to request an exception to HUD's income-targeting requirement for WtW. They also worked together to generate computerized matches of the individuals on the PHA's waiting list and the welfare roll, and then identified families meeting the program's selection criteria in order to invite them to a "housing fair." Before sending invitations to the fair, Human Services completed a pre-certification for each invitee, substantially eliminating delays in the TANF eligibility verification process.

Using Housing Fairs for Effective Lease-up

Fresno organized massive housing fairs in order to quickly lease large numbers of families. They secured two buildings at a local fairground and scheduled a total of six fairs. At the fairs, families were screened for eligibility, and if eligible, they were also issued and briefed that same day.

Fresno used the following five-step approach to voucher issuance that took approximately four hours to complete for the entire fair population:

  1. Registration for all families - this created the HA's tracking tool - 15-20 minutes;

  2. Voucher survey (Fresno is a HUD evaluation site for the WtW voucher program) - 2 hours;

  3. Referral by Human Services - 15 minutes;

  4. A Housing Authority intake and eligibility determination - 30 minutes; and

  5. An orientation/briefing on the program's goals and expectations - 45-60 minutes.

When all steps were completed, vouchers were issued, and families left with vouchers and a tenant handbook which explained the family obligations.

Addressing Program Challenges

Because the WtW voucher program increased Fresno's Section 8 caseload by 33 percent, it faced many challenges. To address these challenges, Fresno did the following:

  • Hired additional staff and made full use of temporary staff;

  • Completed its HQS annual inspection caseload early so that inspectors could focus on the increased number of initial inspections (for new units and families);

  • Utilized its Information Service Center to receive all incoming calls. The goal of service center staff is to respond to the phone call without having to involve other front-line staff; and

  • Dedicated one full-time staff person to assist families that have difficulty finding housing.

Results

Community collaboration, pre-planning, and the use of housing fairs helped Fresno issue all of its vouchers in an expedient and efficient manner. Its program stands out as an example of how WtW goals can be achieved by using innovative ideas and crafting practical, resourceful solutions to conventional leasing barriers.

Contact

Martha Caballero
Assisted Housing Manager for Special Programs
Fresno (CA) Housing Authority
(559) 445-8910
E-mail: mcaballero@hafresno.org

 
Content current as of 23 August 2001   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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