Plymouth (MI) housing commission:
focusing on start-up to meet program objectives
The Plymouth Housing Commission has 1,840 Section 8 vouchers, of
which 408 are WtW. Plymouth has one intake/eligibility specialist
and three case managers. One case manager was designated as the
WtW Coordinator to oversee the entire leasing process from beginning
to end. The WtW Coordinator also coordinates the provision of supportive
services with partner agencies. Plymouth contracts out the inspections
function, which has resulted in timely inspections and eliminates
a common cause of leasing delays. Plymouth also brought in three
part-time summer people to assist with mailings and other clerical
Leasing Strategy and Approach
Plymouth staff views the creation of the WtW program as an indication
of future HUD and congressional housing objectives and priorities.
It felt that to be successful in accomplishing the housing and employment
goals of the program, it needed to establish community partnerships,
identify program resources, and establish an infrastructure prior
to beginning a mass intake and leasing effort. While this strategy
meant a delay in leasing, Plymouth plans to make up for this delay
through the efficiencies gained during its startup period. Plymouth
took the following approach to leasing:
- Waiting list examination
After reviewing Plymouth's waiting list, staff realized that there
was an insufficient number of potentially eligible families from
which to select.
- Opening the waiting list
Plymouth opened its waiting list for one day and accepted over
4,300 applications. Questions were added to the waiting list application
that specifically related to WtW and the family's potential eligibility.
From these questions, staff members were then able to flag and
recognize potential families for the program.
- Software modification
Staff contacted its software provider to modify the waiting
list screen so that a computerized list of potential WtW families
could be generated to expedite the selection process.
- Staff meetings with Program Partners
WtW staff then met with the FSS Coordinating Board, the Housing
Commission Board, its Executive Director, and various partner
agencies to establish goals and obtain commitments for program
involvement. Plymouth's experience with the mainstream voucher
program motivated them to establish cooperative agreements with
social service providers that would play a critical role in assisting
families during and after the housing search. Instead of trying
to "reinvent the wheel," Plymouth contacted agencies
with which they had worked well in the past and began the process
of obtaining support and developing memoranda of understanding.
Plymouth invited the first 500 families to be screened for the
Plymouth uses a mass briefing approach. Staff developed a special
briefing format for WtW. They invited the first 15 families to
the briefing and used them as a test group. After the briefing
presentation, Plymouth asked the families to give them feedback
about the usefulness and quality of the briefing. Plymouth used
this information to make improvements to its briefing presentation.
Supportive Services Plan
Plymouth has dedicated much time and effort to ensure that a supportive
service plan is in place so that families are provided with necessary
services upon leasing up. Families are scheduled to meet with a
case manager within 90 days of leasing up. It has received notable
resource commitments from partners, including:
- Security deposit assistance from the local TANF agency;
- Donation of refurbished appliances (washers and dryers) from
a local vendor;
- Provision of résumé writing assistance; and
- "Dress for Success Program" benefits, transportation,
and other services from an outlying county agency.
Plymouth also meets regularly with the other four agencies in the
state of Michigan that were awarded WtW vouchers. These coordinating
meetings have been a very useful exchange of information regarding
best practices, roadblocks, and questions.
Section 8 Director
Plymouth (MI) Housing Commission