5 Brilliant Public Housing Innovations

There are often complaints that the public sector is not innovative enough or is far behind the private sector.  While there is truth in that statement, there are still hundreds of housing authorities around the world trying out and experimenting with new ideas to help the citizens and residents of their communities.  Here are a few interesting and innovative programs taking place around the world.

1. Combine Public Housing and Voucher Program Into 1: Lawrence Douglas County Housing Authority

This idea would not work for many agencies of a bigger size but it is still worth examining.   LDCHA combined the public housing and the HCV Program into single program, called General Housing, with a single organizational structure, one waiting list, and a single administrative plan. LDCHA maintains a single application and applies the same eligibility requirements to applicants of both programs. The program merger also provided a single point of contact for applicants, participants, and partners. As a result of the merger, LDCHA realized cost efficiency by organizing staff by function rather than program type and was able to increase the number of vouchers administered from 502 in 1999 to 752 in 2013 without increasing the number of staff other than those working in resident services.-  Follow this link for more information

2. Assisted Living Program: DC. Housing Authority:

Social housing providers around the world need to get with the game and start getting into the world of assisted living.  The elderly that we house are going to have no where to go and the housing authority world needs to adapt.  The District of Columbia Housing Authority opened its first, state-of-the-art, affordable assisted living facility. The $5 million, three-story affordable assisted living facility located at 2905 11th Street, N.W., is a working model for future similar endeavors.

The renovation and construction of the 14-unit building was made possible by a combination of funding, including grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Department of Housing and Community Development, and DCHA’s subsidiary, D.C. Housing Enterprises. DCHA is now one of a limited number of housing authorities certified as a Medicaid provider, allowing the facility to provide 24-hour service for its low-income residents-  Click Here For More


3. FSS Pay-point System: San Mateo Housing Authority

San Mateo changed the Family Self Suffcineecy program for their particpants to meet needs and streamline program ineffciences.  Residents in the program in San Mateo get money for reaching certain milestones instead of increasing earned income.  Here are some examples.

  • Education/Vocational Degree Attainment: $500 for each completed education/vocational goal. ($1,000 maximum per family under this category)
  • Personal Enrichment/Job Preparation: $25 for each workshop, skill improvement training completed. ($250 maximum per family under this category)
  • Path to Citizenship: $250 for each goal completed per family member in this process.($500 maximum per family under this category)
  • Budgeting/Saving Series:
  • Attend a HACSM-sponsored budgeting class within the first six months of program entry. ($25)
  • Prepare and submit to HACSM a personal budget for six months following the budgeting class. ($100)

4. Lean Process Improvement: Seattle Housing Authority

The Seattle Housing Authority aims to bring real process improvement and team culture to its agency by using lean.  Lean is a process improvement and management system with origins back to Toyota in Japan.   Staff ranging form directors to line staff have undergone training and working together on dozens of process improvement events.  The aim is to not only save money and time but also to think about residents, landlords and the community as customers.  If the mentality is that all of these parties are customers, the Seattle Housing Authority will work to improve all of their respective experiences and visits with the agency.


5. Social Enterprise as a Tool for Affordable Housing Development: Sustain Community Housing-Australia

Sustain Housing is a non-profit community housing developer established by Josh Vrsaljko. The agency does not take government money but is piloting a model of acquiring land, sub-dividing, building and then selling a portion to the market and holding the remainder for social purposes. The financing was arranged by a $1.6m joint loan facility from Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) – who finance impact investment projects. Sustain will use the equity in these retained properties to replicate the model on a larger scale. With each development, Sustain is planning to partner up with housing associations with a competency in that area.  Read more here

Conclusion: Can you name some other programs that belong on this list?  If so, message me so I can add.

2 thoughts on “5 Brilliant Public Housing Innovations

  1. Correction — The first assisted living in Public Housing was created in Nebraska by the Schuyler Housing Authority. Funded with conventional loan that was secured by the Capital Improvement Grant. Residents are supported through the Nebraska Medicaid Waiver program.


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