3 Innovative Public Housing Organizations You Should Be Watching


There are some who say that the field of affordable housing is not innovative or is light years behind the private sector.  While every industry has its challenges, lets examine a few agencies that show how forward thinking and business oriented they are while still having a social mission.

San Diego Housing Commission:

This Moving to Work (MTW) organization is well known for being innovative in programming and organizational structure.  Within their housing programs they have implemented the following:

  • Path to Success- This unique program combines an altered rent structure model with intensive outcome oriented case management that is tracked in the Efforts to Outcomes database.  The financial changes paired with the assistance has been a major change in the way public housing and voucher participants engage with federally assisted housing programs.
  • Caseload Optimization: How many of your organizations struggle with monthly spikes in the number of annual reviews you have to process?  San Diego was the first housing authority in the country to optimize the caseloads, smooth out differences, level load caseload volume per worker and take into account the difficulty of a caseload based on work-able vs. senior disabled.
  • Non-Traditional Programs: San Diego has stepped outside of their comfort zones and worked on programs to support homeless vulnerable populations in ways that the traditional voucher and public housing programs could not.  Check out Project 25 as an example.

Within their organizational strategy, the San Diego Housing Commission created an office of project management.  As many housing authorities struggle with project management, this model should be interesting for all housing organizations.

El Paso Housing Authority:

If you want to know what housing authority gets more visits than just about any other in the country, look no further than El Paso.  Their unique organizational vision aligned with high tech solutions bring PHAs from around the USA to their offices to learn.   You cannot talk about El Paso Housing without discussing their RAD conversion.  This is the transition of moving their entire public housing stock to a new funding stream that allows for redevelopment.  While many PHAs waited to figure out how RAD would work, El Paso set the bar and led the way.  Thousands of units have already been redeveloped and the rest will go through the transition soon enough. 

On top of the RAD conversion, El Paso was very unique in the way they provided customer service.  Their lobby was set up to allow for paper less annual reviews years before most agencies had even converted to document imaging.  They were way ahead of the curve on performance metrics and continue to push the limits by introducing lean process improvement ideas and methodologies.

San Antonio Housing Authority:

This organization is very well known for not only their real estate development but their inclusive tenant programs.  Included in this is the following:

  • Resident Connect program to help get residents internet connectivity and computer access knowledge.
  • They  have won multiple awards for green building.
  • They also have a fitness program to encourage health and wellness in their communities.
  • They also run extremely efficient public housing and voucher programs.


We can learn a lot from these organizations and their innovative programs and approaches.  What have you seen? Can you recommend any programs?  Email us at info@housing-futures.org

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