Embracing Innovation and the Future of AI in Housing with Christina Quinones

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Navigating the complexities of managing a Public Housing Authority (PHA) can be a daunting task. Between endless paperwork, compliance checks, and managing tenant interactions, the workload can seem overwhelming. However, there are some simple yet powerful technological tools that can significantly ease this burden and enhance your PHA’s efficiency.  

Recently, AMA Consulting Group, LLC sat down with affordable housing and innovation expert, Christina Quinones, on an episode of The PHA Podcast to hear what she has to say about how PHAs can start leveraging technology, like AI, to transform operations. 

1. Embracing AI for Everyday Tasks 

One of the most straightforward and impactful tools you can implement is AI. In our interview, Christina says, “Of all the things that I’ve come across recently, AI is one of those amazing tools that really can streamline a lot of what you’re doing.” AI-powered tools can handle a variety of administrative tasks that typically consume a lot of time. From drafting job descriptions to creating standard operating procedures (SOPs), AI can significantly reduce the time you spend on these necessary but tedious tasks. 

Christina recommends utilizing AI-powered tools in the following ways to maximize its potential for your agency: 

  • Automating Documentation: Quickly generate detailed and professional documents, reducing the hours spent on writing and formatting. 
  • Enhancing Communication: Use it to draft emails, reports, and other communications efficiently, ensuring clarity and consistency. 
  • Customer Service: Implement AI as a chatbot on your website to provide instant responses to common inquiries from residents, helping to improve your customer service without additional staffing. 

2. Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Tracking Systems 

Another essential step is to establish and track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Knowing your numbers is crucial for making informed decisions. Christina brought up the valid point, “So much of what we do is based on numbers, right? Start tracking your numbers and get transparency into what you’re doing.” 

Tracking numbers might sound complex, but with tools like Microsoft SharePoint, which is part of the Office 365 suite that many organizations already use, setting up a tracking system can be straightforward.  

Christina’s Recommended Steps to Implement KPI Tracking: 

  • Identify Key Metrics: Determine what metrics are most important for your PHA, such as the number of applications processed, maintenance requests completed, or occupancy rates. 
  • Use SharePoint for Data Management: SharePoint allows you to create custom lists and dashboards to track and visualize these metrics. 
  • Regular Reviews: Schedule regular reviews of your KPIs to identify trends and areas for improvement, making data-driven decisions to enhance operations. 

3. Enhancing Customer Service with AI 

“You know how you present yourself to your participants really is huge. The way you interact with them is going to make a huge difference on the level of participation and engagement.” According to Christina, customer service is a cornerstone of any successful PHA. How your staff interacts with residents, landlords, and partners can significantly impact their satisfaction and engagement. AI can play a vital role in improving this aspect of your operations. 

Christina’s AI-Powered Customer Service Solutions: 

  • Automated Messaging: Implement AI-driven chatbots to provide residents with instant feedback and updates. For instance, letting them know their request has been received and when they can expect a response. 
  • Instant Responses: Use AI to answer frequently asked questions and guide residents through common processes, reducing the need for staff to handle repetitive inquiries. 
  • Personalized Communication: AI can help tailor communications based on individual resident needs, improving the overall experience and engagement. 

4. Implementing a Functional Operations Approach 

Many PHAs operate using a case manager approach, where each case manager handles a wide range of tasks for their assigned residents. While this can be effective, it often places a heavy burden on case managers and can lead to inefficiencies. One of Christina’s most transformative and innovative ideas, task-based operations, can alleviate this. 

Christina’s Functional Operations Model: 

  • Specialized Roles: Break down tasks into specialized functions. For example, have specific staff dedicated solely to eligibility reviews, lease-ups, or annual re-certifications. 
  • Mastery of Functions: By focusing on a single area, staff can become experts in their assigned tasks, leading to higher accuracy and efficiency. 
  • Enhanced Compliance: With specialized roles, you reduce the likelihood of errors and improve compliance, as staff are more knowledgeable about their specific duties. 

6. Leveraging Advanced Tools 

Finally, innovative tools, like Christina’s very own brainchild, Sherloq, can further enhance your PHA’s operations. Sherloq is an inspections management tool that simplifies scheduling and managing inspections, and we think it’s absolutely genius. 

Features of Sherloq: 

  • Efficient Scheduling: Automates the coordination of inspection schedules, ensuring timely and organized inspections. 
  • Electronic Forms: Uses electronic forms to collect data, which is then stored in a database for easy access and analysis. 
  • Automated Communication: Sends automated messages to landlords and tenants regarding inspection results and necessary actions. 
  • Historical Data Access: Provides a portal where landlords and tenants can check the status and history of their inspections, fostering transparency and accountability. 

Embrace the Future of Affordable Housing Management 

Incorporating these technologies into your PHA doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with small, manageable steps like implementing ChatGPT for administrative tasks or setting up KPI tracking with SharePoint. As you become more comfortable with these tools, explore more advanced solutions like AI-powered customer service and automated document verification. 

By embracing these changes, you can free up your staff to focus on more strategic initiatives, improve your efficiency, and ultimately provide better service to your residents. Technology is not here to take away jobs but to enhance them, creating opportunities for innovation and growth in the affordable housing sector. 

As Christina says so perfectly, “AI is creating more freedom for agency staff to do all the great work that’s really necessary.” 

Let’s leverage technology to transform our PHAs into efficient, responsive, and forward-thinking organizations that can better serve our communities. 


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