How Public Housing Authorities Can Cope – and Thrive – During the Great Resignation

The Great Resignation has hit the public sector just as hard as most industries. Burnout is widespread, and vaccine mandates have resulted in some agencies losing key people at a critical time. Even before the pandemic-driven wave of people quitting and retiring early, it was already tough enough to attract the right people for positions in public housing and other agencies. But the need for public housing grows every day, and along with it comes an increased focus on hiring and retention.

Public Housing Authority (PHA) budgets are flush with money to add new hires. As the pace of hiring picks up, it will be more critical than ever for PHAs to be savvy about how they share their mission and culture as ways to attract applicants, especially those of Millennial age, who are driven by a sense of purpose. of how your agency helps the community goes a long way toward getting the attention of people who might want to be part of it. Taking a bit of time to post on Facebook or LinkedIn could pay off later.

Agencies are also focusing on keeping the employees they already have, bracing for the resignations to continue. According to a recent survey from the MissionSquare Research Institute, state and local government employees want higher salary and better benefits (52%), nearly half (47%) are experiencing burnout, and more than one-third (36%) desire a better work-life balance. Many are looking to leave government employment altogether. In the PHA space, departures of IT and financial staff are particularly painful as they leave behind gaps that can be difficult to fill.

But public agencies should not just let people walk out the door without a word. You may feel powerless, but a Gallup report indicates that over half of employees say their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving. Experts say taking the time to connect and be empathetic with employees pays dividends in keeping up their morale (and keeping them on the team). Being flexible with work schedules, where possible, is another way to help stressed employees who might otherwise be looking for a position outside government that can be done remotely.

The PHA staffing situation is causing a lot of worry. There is some good news, though: your PHA software vendor can help fill in the gaps and alleviate some of the pain of staffing shortages and onboarding. Depending on the offering, the vendor will offer tools like Learning Management courses and a support portal with on-demand videos to help with onboarding new hires. Some vendors offer live webinars on a regular basis that are good for new hires and for training existing people who are filling new roles. A good vendor will also offer on-demand services for special roles such as “accountant-on-call” to fill gaps in financial administration.

There is no question: Staffing issues are among the most urgent concerns facing PHAs today. But as you’re looking for creative solutions, be sure to check with your housing software vendor. They should have resources to lessen the pain.






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Emphasys Software Announces Partnership with the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation

PEMBROKE PINES, FLAugust 2, 2021 – Emphasys Software (Emphasys), a leading provider of compliance-driven software designed to serve the needs of the nation’s public housing authorities, is proud to announce its partnership with New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) and a successful launch of HTFC’s online waitlist lottery for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) for New York City.

Comprised of multiple agencies operating across the entire state, the HTFC focuses on providing crucial services to New York State residents, including Section 8 housing, unique rental options, homebuyer programs for low-income residents, and a broad range of other services all of which are geared towards community development.

“As a statewide, multi-agency organization, our challenges are unique and our technology needs are no different,” explained Ruthanne Visnauskas, Commissioner / CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. “Thankfully, Emphasys is providing the much-needed expertise and software solutions that are assisting our staff in administering HCR’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which helps approximately 45,000 New York families and individuals live affordably in rental homes of their choosing.”

Commenting on the partnership and online waitlist opening project, Emphasys Software PHA’s GM / CEO, Dave Badun said, “I’m grateful for the trust that the HTFC has placed in us and am proud of how our teams came together to successfully execute on one of the largest waiting list openings in American history. Our technology registered a staggering number of applicants processing almost 372,000 completed applications seamlessly with the site serving over 16,000 applicants at one time.” He continued, “We are pleased that the HTFC chose to partner with Emphasys and are looking forward to continuing to help the HTFC fulfill their mission of serving New York State’s low-income residents.”

Emphasys Software’s suite of products for public housing authorities is one of the most robust in the industry. It includes support for Section 8, mobile inspections, property management, and an all-in-one service solution designed to manage and automate waiting lists, applicant information management, Rental Assistance Demonstration and the recertification process.

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. Emphasys offers a complete suite of enterprise software applications with service and support that automates business processes efficiently and effectively. Emphasys Software is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Constellation Software Inc. (TSX:CSU).

Have you Received an End of Life Date from your Software Vendor?

Have you Received an End-of-Life Date from your Software Vendor?

Has your housing software vendor just announced an end of life date for the product your PHA relies on? If so, there are several things to consider now that your vendor is no longer supporting your software.

Moving to any new software product comes with its share of challenges, such as the necessary transfer of knowledge and the need for a clean data conversion. If your PHA is being forced to make a change anyway, why not consider all your options and select the best software partner for your organization?

Questions to ask your current vendor about product end of life:

  1. Do I have to move to the cloud?
  2. If I have to move to the cloud, are you SOC 2 compliant? This is important for data security.
  3. How much functionality am I going to lose? What crucial features are not going to be in the new product?
  4. If I had custom programming done (letters, reports, etc.) will I have to pay for it again?
  5. How much is this going to cost me? Am I getting the software for free or do I have to pay for it again?
  6. If I go beyond the end of life deadline, what will happen? Will I get support?
  7. How much data conversion will come over from the product?
  8. Does my maintenance cost change or will I be paying the same?
  9. Will you assist me with HUD updates during implementation if we have not gone live yet?
  10. How will you handle all the simultaneous upgrades generated by the software end of life? Can you handle the volume?

If you feel your vendor can’t answer these questions, please fill out the contact form below.


Is your Software Vendor Holding your Data Hostage?

Is your Software Vendor Holding your Data Hostage?

Perhaps an auditor has come to your PHA and requested information that resides in your housing software system. It’s a simple enough request, but to your dismay, you find out you must ask your vendor to retrieve it. Then there’s data export. Many systems in the market today won’t let you export your data out of the software without having to go through some sort of report. Or what about needing to switch vendors? Will they lock you out of your data? Now it really feels like your data is being held hostage.

Here are some questions you should ask your vendor to make sure you can access your data in all circumstances.

  1. Do you offer a report wizard that allows my PHA to create reports? Do the reports have key data elements as it relates to 50058s, detailed income information, detailed assets, including detailed information on history (vacancies, certifications, unit history, AR information, etc.)?
  2. Can my PHA create a Microsoft Excel report and tie it directly to the database to create reports?
  3. Do your reports automatically export out to Microsoft Excel in the proper format or do I have to modify the report every time I export it?
  4. Will our PHA have to rely on your support department in order to access report-related items?
  5. Do you have a Data Model that you can share with our PHA?
  6. Do you provide our users with training on creating reports?
  7. Do you have training videos for our PHA staff to review?
  8. Do you have a support department that can guide our users through creating basic report queries?
  9. Can my PHA still access our data even during the time we are transitioning to a new vendor?

More and more, HUD is relying on vendors to deliver and own data, so it’s in your PHA’s best interest to make sure your vendor offers easy and convenient data access. After all, being able to control, access, and trust your data is key to helping your PHA run smoothly.

If you feel your vendor can’t answer these questions and want to know more about how you can own your data, please fill out the contact form below.

Updated September, 2020

Nine Questions to Ask your Software Provider Following an Acquisition

Nine Questions to Ask Your Software Provider Following an Acquisition

If your housing software provider has recently been acquired by another company, there’s probably a lot going through your mind. With any acquisition, there can be uncertainty and anxiety associated with the event, but our industry is especially susceptible due to HUD’s constant changes. Typically, after an acquisition, there are questions that need to be answered, and how they are addressed will determine the future direction and the stability of your Housing Authority moving forward.

When companies are acquired, the organization that’s doing the acquiring has to consider the amount of duplication that is occurring within each department. For instance, do they want to triple the cost of doing all of HUD’s changes for all three products? To make things more complicated, there could be three or four versions of the product within an individual software system. The big question that the acquiring company has to ask themselves is: “Should we move customers to the new system quickly to increase revenue because of the purchase?”

We know the acquisition process can be daunting, unpredictable and confusing for both parties involved, especially the Housing Authority. We put together a list of questions to ask your acquiring software vendor in order to demystify the process and prepare your agency for what’s ahead.

Here are the nine questions a PHA should ask their acquiring software company:

  1. Will I have to move to another system?
  2. Will you give me two to three years advance notice of End of Life for my product?
  3. How long will I have before I have to move?
  4. Are you going to continue to offer updates to our system?
  5. Will the product features be the same in the new product?
  6. Will I receive the new software for free and just have to pay for services?
  7. How will my historical data be converted?
  8. Can I convert a portion of my system to the new product or do I have to jump to the new product completely?
  9. If I have custom Interfaces, letters and reports do they get converted? Do I have to pay for them again?

If you feel you’re not getting a good response from your vendor after asking these questions, maybe it’s time to consider other options. If you decide to explore what other housing software is available, why not look at Emphasys Software? We’ve been serving the affordable housing market for over 40 years and offer a fully integrated Windows-based suite of modules built specifically for PHAs. We’d be happy to introduce you to the Emphasys Elite software.

To learn more, fill out the contact form below.