There must be a clear separation of property management and program or clinical staff duties, but all staff should be viewing the site population and purpose as mission driven.
GOING BEYOND BASIC FUNCTIONS OF PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
The practical and logistical management elements of rental property management must be done, such as rent collection, janitorial services, maintenance of the physical structure, safety, and common area upkeep. But mission-driven property management goes beyond this; whether you hire your own property management staff or contract this function out, all parties should be trained and aware of the unique mission of the property, as well as in housing retention strategies for veterans who have experienced or were at risk for becoming unhoused.
The goal of permanent supportive housing is retention. Therefore, consideration of veteran culture, and accessibility and services for people who have disabilities or have experienced trauma are imbued in all aspects of management.
PROPERTY MANAGERS MAY BE THE FIRST TOUCHPOINT
Property management staff may also be the first to become aware of the need for clinical interventions. They see residents come back and forth from units, they must enter units to conduct repairs, and therefore are able to see behavioral or health changes through regular contact.
Often, veteran providers will say it takes on average around three to six months for veterans to access supportive services because of a lack of trust and a desire among veterans to stabilize their housing first. But residents see property management staff on a regular basis and develop familiarity and trust; sometimes more so than with their clinical providers.
As such, they may reach out to property management staff for help with clinical related issues or activities of daily living (ADL). When this occurs, staff should know how to refer veterans to clinical or program staff.
BEST PRACTICES FOR MISSION-DRIVEN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
Best practices call for open communication and coordinated meetings between property management, clinical and program staff to discuss any issues that may impact a veteran’s tenancy, such as:
- Behavioral issues as evidenced by incident reports and staff observational reports.
Front desk staff should keep a log documenting observation of incidents as well as less critical data; for example, a resident who was limping, a resident who has not recently left their unit when they usually do. These observations can suggest serious underlying needs.
- Late rental payments.
Clinical and program staff may respond by discussing with residents and referring them to services such as SSVF and eviction prevention or the VA to seek pension and disability compensation.
- Reasonable accommodation requests.
Clinical staff and VA case managers can assist the veteran in documenting disability and identifying necessary accommodation.
- Legal actions being considered or in process.
If eviction processes must be initiated, mediation can be used to encourage behavioral health interventions.
- Habitability issues within the project/tenant units.
Maintenance or property management staff may observe serious issues while conducting repairs, if a resident refuses entry to their unit, or if residents ask them for help with clinical needs.
These teams can work together to mitigate failure to pay rent, hoarding, or behavioral issues that would otherwise lead to eviction if they were not in mission-driven housing.