Affiliate Spotlight: Ameresco
Ameresco and the New Bedford Housing Authority
At Ameresco, our work with public housing authorities (PHAs) via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) energy conservation incentives significantly contributes to reducing the estimated $7 billion spent each year by HUD in public and assisted housing utility costs. Over our 21-year history, we have partnered with PHAs to develop innovative solutions, resulting in over $600 million in projects relying primarily on leveraged utility savings, and served 142,000 public housing units. Many of our PHA clients return for additional phases of work; one of our longest-standing PHA partnerships – over 20 years – is with the New Bedford MA Housing Authority (NBHA). From the earliest days of the HUD Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) program when we helped NBHA decentralize heat and hot water from central, oil-fired steam plants to building-based high-efficiency gas, our work with the Authority has been comprehensive and runs the gamut. In fact, we are now working to install 2.4 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar PV that will offset the electricity bills and be owned by the Authority.
This latest phase of work has been underway with NBHA since 2020 and involves a new $12.7 million EPC that includes rooftop solar equipment installations at 11 of NBHA’s 15 developments, as well as other more traditional measures, including boiler replacements, common area and exterior lighting upgrades to LEDs and water conservation. The solar equipment will produce 2.4MW of power, reducing NBHA’s electric consumption in the affected buildings by over 40 percent These savings will be verified ‹at the meter’ and reimbursed under the HUD’s ‘frozen rolling base’ EPC incentive. The project was completed in conjunction with the Commonwealth’s Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target, or “SMART” Program, which supports the development of solar technologies in Massachusetts through significant monetary incentives. As a part of the SMART Program, customers with solar installations are paid a flat rate by state utility companies for the electricity their PV panels generate, incentivizing those without solar technologies to opt for cost-effective renewable energy instead. Given the timing of project construction in 2020, our team had to navigate unforeseen hurdles due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, much of the solar work, constructed on rooftops, did not require our team to enter personal living spaces. For any interior work, such as the water conservation measures and boiler replacements, we worked closely with NBHA to ensure we complied with all necessary COVID-19 safety protocols.
Currently, the project is in the final stages of completion and awaiting final utility interconnect approval for the start-up of the power production, which is expected to be fully operational in 2022. NBHA now has one of the largest housing authority renewable energy installations in New England and plans to use additional utility cost savings to develop and install other sustainable upgrades in the future. NBHA will continue to seek new technologies to ensure both sustainability in its coastline location and the availability of the latest renewable technology for its developments.
Affiliate Spotlight: AffordableHousing.com
GoSection8.com is now AffordableHousing.com
GoSection8.com is a trusted brand and the most recognized affordable housing listing service in the country; however, our name did not reflect all the people we hope to serve. We did not make this decision lightly. Our new name and website reflect our commitment to inclusivity, speaking to our mission to simplify the user process surrounding affordable housing.
AffordableHousing.com is not just a new name. We have modernized our platform to better serve our existing customers and to expand our services and outreach. Visitors to the website will find tools they are familiar with from other internet listing websites such as a map centric listing search, a variety of filters, and an easy-to-use platform. What makes AffordableHousing.com stand out from the rest is our commitment to serving those in search of affordable housing and housing assistance.
Some of AffordableHousing.com’s unique new features include:
- Affordability Based Search – Families can search for units based on household income, viewing properties that meet their budgets.
- Section 8 Voucher Eligibility Based Search – amilies can enter their adjusted incomes and voucher bedroom size to search for eligible units. Families will see units based on the payment standard for the area in which they are searching, down to the census tract. In cases where there are agencies with overlaying jurisdictions, the higher payment standard will be applied. Customizations based on specific agency payment standards, utility allowances, and jurisdiction will soon be available in the Property Portal.
- Accessibility Search Filters – Property owners are encouraged to add additional information about specific accessibility features for their units when creating listings for renter households. This allows for searches based on accessibility features, including specificity of features such as bathroom grab bars or wheelchair accessible ramps.
- Map Filters/Layers – AffordableHousing.com partnered with the non-profit, GreatSchools, to provide a map layer that shows neighboring schools, type of school, zone/district, and school ratings. More map layers will be added and may be customized in the Property Portal.
- Open Waiting Lists Search – AffordableHousing.com keeps public housing agency waiting list information up to date for families served. Families can search for agencies with open waiting lists for Section 8 (Tenant Based Vouchers & Project Based Vouchers), public housing and more. If an agency uses our RevoListTM application, families can apply instantly online. If the agency uses another method of accepting applications, families will be directed to the agency website with information on how to apply.
AffordableHousing.com is just getting started. Stay tuned for more enhancements and functionality that help families, housing agencies and property owners accomplish the common goal of bringing more people home every day.
Partnering with PHAs
Public housing authorities are often the primary source of affordable and low-income housing in their communities. AffordableHousing.com has made a commitment to be a partner in fulfilling their mission to provide adequate and affordable housing to households served. The AffordableHousing.com listing website is a free resource for agencies to encourage property owners to list properties and for voucher holders and constituents to search for available housing opportunities. Housing agencies can even post their waiting list information, public housing, and Section 8 project-based properties, creating a customized property portal at no charge.
AffordableHousing.com was created by listening to our customers and filling a void in the rental marketplace. We will continue to assess consumer needs, listen to feedback from visitors to our website, and improve our services and products accordingly. If you or your agency have comments for improvement, are interested in our products, or would like to share new ideas, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org to learn what we can do for your agency.
AffordableHousing.com is a Sponsor of PHADA’s 2021 Legislative Forum. More information is available here.
Affiliate Spotlight: Brooks Jeffrey Marketing, Inc.
Founded in 1984, Brooks Jeffrey has a proven history of providing award-winning communication solutions for the Affordable Housing Industry, including Logo Development & Brand Building; Integrated Marketing Solutions; and robust Apps & Responsive Websites addressing ADA Accessibility.
Brooks Jeffrey's team has developed custom solutions specifically to address the needs of Housers. Our team of dedicated professionals can help you: TRANSFORM Your Brand; ENHANCE Your Communication; and ENGAGE Your Community.
The insight and knowledge we've gained throughout our business history provides an invaluable advantage for our clients. Brooks Jeffrey's client-centered approach and dedication to excellence propels our continued growth in the Affordable Housing Industry.
Brooks Jeffrey’s experience in helping clients succeed through traditional channels of brand building has evolved to meet the rapidly changing, consumer-driven technological demands of digital media.
Our experience with website development and digital marketing began in 1996. Since that time, our team of talented artists, writers, designers, and web developers has created thousands of successful web solutions. Brooks Jeffrey’s in-house team of professionals is anchored by long-term employees in key managerial positions. Cross training at all positions ensures client projects are completed on time and on budget. Our team has earned more than 80 national and international design awards with 32 website and marketing awards since 2018 for clients in the Affordable Housing Industry.
Case Study: Rebranding Columbia Housing
The Columbia Housing Authority needed to improve public perceptions of their agency.
Efforts were initiated to provide greater focus on resident services, transparency, and accountability while addressing negative attitudes toward the agency. To this goal, a complete rebranding of the Housing Authority was undertaken. A new primary logo brand was developed, along with subsidiary logos to reinforce the branding system. A new, responsive ADA accessible website was developed to provide online tools and resources. These initiatives moved Columbia Housing into a new era by shifting its brand focus from a Public Housing Authority to a community-based organization providing housing and related services to Columbia residents.
Columbia Housing recently received notification of 46 NAHRO Awards of Merit related to these initiatives with eight of those projects developed in conjunction with the team at Brooks Jeffrey:
- Identity Branding & Logo Design
- CommUNITY Impact Report
- E-blast Communications
- Online Staff Portal
- Online Interactive Website Calendar
- Robust Virtual Communications Website & Business Portal
- Online Income Change Self-Certification
- Power of Partnerships, We are Better Together Program Branding
Affiliate Spotlight: DynaTouch PHA Self-Service Kiosks
In response to the challenges of coronavirus and in preparation for the new normal of today and beyond, Public Housing Authorities around the country are implementing Self-Service Kiosk Solutions to better meet residents’ long term needs. DynaTouch is the leading Kiosk provider for most of the largest Housing Authorities in America, setting the industry standard for PHA Kiosks. We have been working with federal, state, and local government agencies for over 30 years.
Why a Kiosk?
Leveraging online tools is a step in the right direction to help limit face-to-face interactions while maintaining normal operations. Unfortunately, the web doesn't reach all citizens; in fact, it can be argued that those who need public services the most have the least access to high-tech service-delivery channels. Resident kiosks at the point of service help bridge this digital divide.
Built from the ground up for Public Housing Authorities, our PHA OneStop Resident Self-Service Kiosks are tailored to the specific community needs of each PHA, with our expert team of professionals working alongside them every step of the way.
How Does the Kiosk work?
Dynatouch: Public Housing Authority OneStop Resident Self-Service Kiosk.
Our COVID-19 Response Technology allows you to continue safe and effective operation of your housing programs while assisting and protecting your residents, applicants, and employees. The kiosk's document management functions minimize the handling of paperwork and allow residents to fill out and sign digital applications, scan and upload recertifications, access online payments, and submit maintenance requests—all from a one-stop self-service customer kiosk.
PHA OneStop Resident Self-Service Kiosk will reduce employee time dedicated to appointments, provide access to affordable housing assistance for those in need, and provide secure, contactless digital document collection.
Designed to modernize your manual processes, the Kiosk also interfaces with leading PHA Resident portals such as Yardi, MRI, Emphasys, PHA Web, SACS, and others.
Who Are Using These Kiosks?
To date, DynaTouch is proud to have sold over 450 PHA OneStop Kiosks to Public Housing Authorities, facilitating over 650,000 Resident Kiosk User sessions. Our track record of success is shown not only by our 50+ Housing Authority customers, but by our many clients that are continuing to expand their projects after seeing initial success.
“With these kiosks, we will have limited face-to-face interactions and physical handling of paperwork or receipts,” said Director of Operations of a Top 10 Housing Authority. “In the coming months, we plan to roll out additional kiosks at our senior sites and our central office, and eventually add kiosks at our family sites and townhouses.”
These Kiosks are being placed in PHA Lobby Waiting areas, Public Housing Lobbies, Housing Choice Voucher Program locations, as well as in libraries, city halls, community centers, and more.
More information is available here.
Affiliate Spotlight: Dominion Due Diligence Group
Dominion Due Diligence Group (D3G) is the nation’s leading full-service affordable housing due diligence provider and RAD consulting firm. We are committed to navigating the most complex affordable housing challenges. By providing our core services in-house, our team of experts delivers a streamlined experience for Public Housing Authorities. With over 25 years of experience and a nationwide reach, D3G has assisted hundreds of PHAs in repositioning their housing portfolio via the HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Specializing in the entire process, from pre-conversion consulting to closing, D3G is well positioned to help both small and large PHAs. Rob Hazelton, D3G’s founder and CEO, has focused tremendous time and effort on the RAD process since its inception in 2012 when D3G was selected to pilot the process for HUD. RAD can seem intimidating, but with D3G guidance, you can comfortably make informed decisions that are in the best interest of your property.
The RAD program has closed 1,200 public housing transactions and repositioned 130,000 Public Housing units in the process. D3G has played a large role in the success of the program and our firm’s combined expertise led us to complete 380 RAD and Section 18 projects in 2020 alone. We pride ourselves on our ability to contribute to the process of providing quality housing for populations in need.
D3G’s CEO Rob Hazelton discusses the possibilities with RAD.
With over 30 staff members on the RAD team, D3G has dedicated experts focused on Special Applications Center (SAC) Section 18 Demo/Dispo evaluations, RAD conversions involving mixed finance, and housing preservation. Adding to our capabilities, D3G is familiar working with PHAs of any size. We have successfully assisted three of the five largest PHAs in the country with RAD conversions, but we are equally experienced in working alongside smaller PHAs. D3G has worked with client portfolios representing tens of thousands of units as well as portfolios of fewer than 50. No project is too large or small for D3G.
Jenn Krieher, a former HUD Transaction Manager, leads a team that helps hesitant PHAs become more comfortable and knowledgeable about the initial phase of the RAD process. She works with each PHA to determine a project timeline and plan checklist that maps out each step throughout the entirety of the RAD process.
In addition to our traditional due diligence services, D3G offers consulting and portfolio review, repositioning studies, environmental consulting, site selection, Neighborhood Standards review, and RAD Financing Plan development. This inclusive and streamlined approach keeps PHAs prepared for and aligned with long-term needs and success.
Affiliate Spotlight: EZ-Snap Covers
LOCKDOWN Baseboard Heater Covers
EZ Snap Covers – Lock Down.
EZ-Snap Covers, the leading innovator of residential and commercial baseboard heater covers, has developed a solution tailored exactly to the needs of public housing authorities, multi-family housing facilities, and commercial properties.
Patent-pending LOCKDOWN Heater Covers by EZ-Snap provides massive cost and time savings for public housing teams. By locking the covers in place, they shield children from all the sharp objects that are inherent in all baseboard hot water heating systems. Small children love standing on the baseboard heaters to look out the windows, knocking off the front covers and exposing the razor-sharp fintubes, while also leaving the sharp ends exposed. The original heaters also tend to get extremely rusty compounding any injury issues that occur. With EZ-Snap LOCKDOWN covers, all sharp objects are contained in one simple enclosure.
LOCKDOWN by EZ-Snap is just what the name implies, it is locked in place mechanically, making it extremely safe for all children. LOCKDOWN is so strong, 200-pound adults can stand on them and they still remain totally intact. By eliminating dangerous sharp object incidents, they help minimize legal issues that arise or may be initiated by the baseboard heater system. The 20-gauge galvanized steel covers snap over existing baseboard heaters in minutes and they feature a baked-on epoxy powder coating. Once you’ve installed these covers, you can rest assured knowing they will survive the dents, chips, and scratches for years to come. Our EZ-Snap Covers’ LOCKDOWN Heater covers are Tenant-Tested-Tough.
W. Gary Peters, on behalf of Bridgeport Rescue Mission in Bridgeport, CT, said “Our LOCKDOWN covers are installed in high-traffic areas where conventional covers deteriorate rapidly. We expect the industrial strength of the EZ-Snap Covers will last for many years.” Mr. Peters also went on to say “Our contractor’s installation time was 40% less than estimated.”
LOCKDOWN Heater Covers also help in theft-protection, once installed, LOCKDOWN Heater Covers can only be removed or serviced by authorized personnel. This has saved housing authorities millions over time in replacement parts due to theft, damage, and the great time waster “service calls”.
LOCKDOWN Heater Covers keep guests and residents safe while ensuring property managers keep their baseboard heater covers locked down, preventing them from being removed, accidentally or on purpose, by unauthorized persons.
LOCKDOWN Heater Covers have been recognized as the ideal commercial solution. Based on the product’s specifications, here’s what makes LOCKDOWN great:
- LOCKDOWN Heater Covers helps prevent children from injury
- LOCKDOWN Heater Covers permanently attach to help prevent theft
- Rust-Proof 20-gauge galvanized steel holds up against all environments for years
- Baked-on Epoxy Powder Coating
- Made in the USA from sustainable materials
- Helps maintain compliance, avoiding fines
- Helps save housing authorities millions of dollars in theft, damage, and legal issues
- 5-Minute install by existing staff - NO HVAC or plumbing bills
Design and Sizing
LOCKDOWN Heater Covers fit 95% of all hot water baseboard heaters. Standard 7½″ and TALL 9½″ heights are available. Standard lengths of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7-foot are available, as well as custom-cut lengths and custom heights to fit your specific installation requirements.
About EZ-Snap Covers
Having been in the remodeling business for over 25 years, we knew that there had to be a better way to fix old, ugly baseboard heaters. EZ-Snap Covers is that better way. The bent, rusted, cheesy 1950’s look of the original manufacturing companies are gone and the neat, clean, stylish look of today is here. EZ-Snap Covers are modern looking, and are made with 20-Gauge galvanized steel, the thickest cover on the market today, with a baked-on epoxy powder coated. Our covers are “Tenant-Tested-Tough.”
For more information, visit: www.ezsnapcovers.com.
Affiliate Spotlight: Auto-Out
As many housing agencies and property managers know, few things are worse than fires on a property. Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires. With the COVID-19 pandemic, cooking fires have increased with more people cooking at home than ever before.
As a property manager or director, you do everything you can to protect your buildings and tenants. However, many things are unfortunately out of your control, and in your resident’s hands instead. It could be something as simple as a resident taking a phone call while cooking, and just a few short minutes later a fire starts to engulf their kitchen.
Fortunately, there are automatic fire suppression products, such as Auto-Out, that can help prevent these incidents from becoming a worst-case scenario. Easily installed by a magnet in the vent hood above the range, the Auto-Out is activated by excessive flames on the stovetop, releasing fire-suppressant powder onto the fire. There have been countless cases whereby these devices prevented a fire from spreading past the stovetop.
Auto-Out is affordable (about $38 per stovetop) and will last for up to 6 years. In fact, the company who makes Auto-Out even provides discounts and free shipping to all housing authorities. Over 300 housing authorities nationwide, ranging from Broward County, FL to King County, WA are already using Auto-Out. These devices have proven performance and are an affordable and simple solution to a potentially devastating event.
“We use this product for all of our units. This product has literally saved us thousands of dollars in liabilities. I would highly recommend for all multifamily and older adult housing.”
David Gonzalez, President of HACE Management Co.
“I just returned from a stove fire call at Apple Tree Lane here in Easthampton MA. Upon arrival there was no smoke, no fire showing.... I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that your product saved this apartment and adjoining units from a potentially disastrous fire. It did so, extremely efficiently. So much so that we didn’t even have to ventilate any smoke because there wasn’t any. Very impressive to say the least.”
Dennis Peck, Captain of the Easthampton, MA Fire Department
“The morning of January 14, 2015, a resident left a pot on the stove cooking. The resident stated she was upstairs sleeping and heard a loud pop. It was the pop of the Auto-Out. The Auto-Out prevented the fire from spreading with only minor damages to stove.”
Marshet Williams, Manager at Shadowbrook Townhomes
You can visit www.auto-out.com to read more success stories and find a list of housing authorities using Auto-Out.
Affiliate Spotlight: Emphasys Software
Emphasys Software launches partnership with City of Phoenix Housing Department
Emphasys Software, the provider of compliance driven software specifically designed through collaborative partnerships with leading Public Housing Authorities throughout the nation, announced that the City of Phoenix Housing Department has selected Emphasys Software as its strategic business software solution. The City of Phoenix Housing Department’s programs provide public housing, Section 8 housing vouchers, affordable rental apartments and single-family homes to more than 35,000 area residents. Through these programs, it is the City of Phoenix Housing Department’s mission to provide sustainable and affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities to Phoenix residents. Emphasys’ suite of solutions will empower the City of Phoenix Housing Department to effectively manage its 6,700 Section 8 housing vouchers and 1,518 low-income public housing units.
Cindy Stotler, Housing Department Director, City of Phoenix said, “I like the fact that Emphasys Software is solely dedicated to serving Public Housing Authorities, and is one of the few software vendors whose product can handle the size of our agency. Their software solution is the most flexible and robust in the market and will allow our agency to automate common processes, improve efficiencies, ensure compliance and assist our families and applicants within one comprehensive system. Additionally, the unmatched industry experience and domain knowledge of Emphasys’ staff assures us that we’re in good hands.”
Emphasys’ CEO, Paul Yancich, also commented saying, “Phoenix is an industry-leading large PHA that represents the complex and knowledgeable client base we appreciate serving. We look forward to our partnership with Phoenix, as well as announcing more exciting developments here at Emphasys in the coming months.”
Emphasys Software appreciates the opportunity to serve the City of Phoenix Housing Department as its primary software vendor, and looks forward to nurturing a long-lasting and successful partnership.
About Emphasys Software
As a pioneer of enterprise software for public housing authorities, Emphasys has set the standard for innovative compliance-based business solutions since 1976. Emphasys’ software is used to help manage and house nearly one million families through over 200 of the nation’s leading and many of the nation’s largest public housing authorities using our technology. Emphasys offers a complete suite of enterprise software applications with service and support that automates business processes efficiently and effectively.