Managing multiple properties and thousands of clients with strict eligibility requirements is an administrative challenge. York County Housing Authority (YHA) uses the WinTen public housing software to manage tenant programs, administer financial reporting, and deliver maintenance services. The TenMast system helps housing authorities meet HUD regulations and data reporting requirements.
However, YHA was still faced with the challenge of managing all of the additional documents needed to complete a case file. In addition to the application and personal declaration form, clients seeking assistance must produce a Social Security card, I-94 green-card, and proofs of income and residency for the past five years. A large part of the tenant eligibility determination process is supported by documentation from outside sources, including credit checks, landlord references, and criminal background checks. Between active, inactive, and wait-listed applicants, YHA devoted an enormous amount of office space to paper files.
For current tenants, the file problem grows even larger every year due to the required re-certification process. Because of the range of services offered and the large number of clients served, YHA struggled with maintaining paper files. Sometimes problems would arise with locating the correct tenant file, or verifying the completeness of a given file. This could present additional challenges regarding the scheduling of meetings with tenants to complete records.
Because YHA administers federal HUD dollars, the agency is subject to detailed audits which require a significant review of information. Past audits have required the full-time attention of YHA employees who would have to manually page through massive files to verify content.
YHA chose KeyMark’s custom-configured OnBase Document Management System through a competitive bid process.
“We were very deliberate in our approach to data management,” said Deputy Director Craig Zumbrun, adding that the entire process from concept to implementation took about three years.
Some of that time was spent prepping staff members through focus group-type meetings and getting their input and buy-in before any new program was launched.
OnBase is an electronic document repository and is also linked with the agency’s tenant, financial and maintenance management modules in the TenMast Software.
Section 8 Specialists spend most of their day in the TenMast Occupancy and Rent Calculation module for housed tenants. By adding the KeyMark solution, the Specialists simply click on a familiar screen in TenMast to instantly retrieve the images of the supporting documents (drivers’ license, social security cards, etc.).
Gone are the days when the Specialist would have to stop to retrieve paper files. The integration also allows managers to call up work order document images directly from their TenMast Work Order Module.
“ We were dealing with mounting volumes of paper. Some files, such as our Section 8 files can never be collapsed or destroyed. A single family who has been a Section 8 client for 6 – 7 years may have a file that is between two and three feet thick. Some employees had stacks of paper piled high on their desks or were carting around pounds and pounds of paper when working on a case. One of the results of our implementation is that I can actually see people working at neat desks in clean offices!”
The electronic files are backed up for restoration purposes if a disaster occurs — something not easily done with paper. The OnBase solution also securely addresses the paper capturing needs of the Accounting and Human Resources Departments. For HR, the system automatically creates a new employee folder structure to capture onboarding documents and other critical personnel records. Accounting files are easily retrieved by YHA staff members in a self-serve fashion, significantly reducing the number of internal requests made to accounting for transaction documents. Here again, the solution is integrated with the TenMast accounting module so that specific invoices are retrieved directly from within the TenMast screen. The KeyMark solution also automatically cross references that invoice’s associated documents, such as quotes, POs, receivers, checks, etc. This immediate access to all of the appropriate information improves the speed and accuracy of decisions.
Most recently, YHA has implemented a system-driven workflow for their accounts payable invoice approval process at each Asset Management Project (AMP). When invoices are received at an AMP location instead of Accounting, the invoices are placed in a networked scanner, and the invoice button is pressed, which scans the image directly to Accounting.
A department staff member prepares those invoices along with the ones centrally received, and the workflow pushes the invoices to the respective AMP managers for review and approval. Invoices aren’t lost, and there is no longer a question as to whether or not a manager approved a particular invoice. The system workflow also keeps track of invoices still awaiting approval decision and provides automatic reminders.
In addition to the time-saving efficiencies afforded to YHA employees, the agency has greatly reduced its need for paper files. Already more than 1.2 million pages are instantly available electronically. That is the equivalent of more than 40 four-drawer file cabinets. In addition, with very little paper being added to the retention archives, the destruction of older records actually frees up valuable space.
But eliminating the physical files is only the beginning. Now, multiple caseworkers can access a tenant’s file simultaneously. This shared access allows employees to quickly find the particular documents they need. The KeyMark solution also identifies the required documents that are missing from the file, saving case workers considerable time and giving them confidence in the accuracy of the documents they are reviewing.
For this year’s Public Housing and Accounting Department audits, the auditors themselves were given temporary logins and passwords in order to conduct their own research and retrieve the desired electronic document images directly with no need for employee intervention. This eliminated the need for employees to spend hours (or days) finding necessary information and files to satisfy the auditors inquiries.
About York County Housing Authority
The Housing Authority of the City of York, Pennsylvania (YHA) provides safe and affordable housing for eligible residents of the County. The YHA has helped more than 10,000 families since its inception in 1949 through the administration of the Section 8 Housing Rental Assistance Program and the Public Housing Program. It operates 1,069 public housing units, in addition to administering 1,452 housing choice vouchers, and employs between 90 and 100 people.
The Public Housing (PH) Program is a federal program that provides rental assistance for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities in a variety of multi-family developments, high-rise and mid-rise apartment buildings. Public Housing residents pay no more than 30% of their adjusted gross income for rent and basic utilities. In order to qualify, residents must complete an application process, come to the top of the waiting list, and meet requirements including income, housekeeping, rental history, criminal history, and financial responsibility. YHA provides 1,069 of these units.
Through the Section 8 Housing Voucher Rental Assistance Program, the YHA helps families afford safe and sanitary housing that is made available through private landlords. Applicants are screened using federal HUD rules and eligible families are given a voucher to be used to rent a house or an apartment from a participating landlord. The tenant will pay at least 30% and no more than 40% of their adjusted gross monthly income.