Why Every PHA Should Go For Moving To Work (MTW)

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The latest assault by the Republican Administration on affordable housing should have every executive team at every PHA across the nation thinking about ways to diversify, streamline and mix up their operations.  One of the most interesting ways to protect your PHA might just be to get into the Moving to Work game.  If you are an executive and you do not know what the MTW program is, it is time for you to get on your computer and do some research.    Here are some major ways the MTW program can help your agency:

  1. Fungibility- Right now you have zero flexibility with those funds of yours.  The buckets are what they are and you need to keep your money within the safety of where it should be.  You cannot use housing assistant payments money for admin cost and you cannot use admin dollars to cover public housing operating costs.  MTW gives you the flexibility to single source it all and use it in the best ways to keep your organization up and running.  Now what is interesting with this money flexibility is what can happen when you do the following:
  2. Program Changes- MTW gives you the right to experiment and try new things. If the government is not giving you enough money to run your voucher program, blow it up!  By that I mean change it so you can run it.  Go to fixed subsidies.  Get rid of income calculations.  Move tor triannual recert schedules or get rid of yearly HQS inspections.  Whatever you need to do to make thing work out, go for it.   Here are some other ideas:
    1. Increase minimum rents- If you are not getting enough money to cashflow in public housing or voucher programs, increase your minimum rents. I have seen MTW agencies go to $50 then $75 and then $150.  This puts more stress on the resident but there are few other choices when subsides are getting cut.
    2. Move to a multi-year recert schedule- However; when you do this that means you need to cut staff to go along with it. You will save zero dollars if you do not reduce staffing.
    3. Move to multi-year inspection cycle- Your landlords will love you and you can reduce the number of inspectors on staff. Play with this so you do not allow bad landlords to get on this multi-year cycle.
    4. Change the FSS program- This should be easier to run and less expensive for the agency. Get rid of escrow and give bonus payments for meeting goals.

Conclusion:

If you can wire it all up and get rid of a lot inefficiency, you can use the saved money to cover operational expenses and capital costs.  Every agency who is able should consider going MTW!

Author: jcrites

Josh Crites is an American social housing professional with both practical and research experience. He has worked at 3 social housing companies in the USA in roles ranging from policy and operations to process improvement and strategy. Josh is a former Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellow. During that fellowship, Josh researched and worked with social housing companies in Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, England, Estonia and Spain. He is an avid writer and advocate for the provision of social housing around the world.

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