Public Housing Authorities nationwide were under a lot of pressure throughout the course of the pandemic. The services provided by these PHAs are so critical to the communities they serve.
In order to keep these crucial programs running, HUD offered several waivers for agencies. These waivers gave PHAs a reprieve from some of the more rigorous operational and reporting requirements. One waiver was the Section Eight Management Assessment Program, or SEMAP.
- While the SEMAP waiver was a needed relief, it is likely if your agency adopted it, you may have fallen behind in your compliance or are possibly unsure of where your agency stands. If this is you, don’t wait for a troubled rating from your next SEMAP audit to find out.
So, the question now is… How can I know where my agency currently stands?
Well, we’ve got your answer… kind of. The best thing you can do is conduct a quick in-house audit or quality control check on the same 14 areas HUD looks at. Here’s what you want to look at.
Conducting an Internal SEMAP Audit
Quality control is essential to a strong housing authority. However, it can be hard to know where to start, and even overwhelming to think of all the extra work that may be involved. Let’s break it down step by step…
1. Identify the areas that need auditing.
This one is super easy because that work has already been done for you! SEMAP provides you with the list of the 14 target areas that will be audited.
2. How often do you need to audit?
Ultimately this will be up to you to decide, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The results of the audit
- How much time will you have to address the results?
Our recommendation is to schedule your audit far enough in advance to give you time to address any negative results. Once you have done that, you should reaudit those areas to ensure the necessary corrections have been made. A minimum of three months should give you time for auditing, corrections, and feedback.
3. Create a quality control calendar.
This is a great tool for keeping you on track and in compliance. If your team tends to wait until the last minute, it is likely you won’t have the time you need to make necessary adjustments. Creating a calendar of regularly scheduled maintenance and routine quality control checks will help you stay ahead of any issues that arise.
4. Communicate clearly about scheduled audits.
Communication is key! No one enjoys a pop quiz. Make sure you inform your staff of any upcoming audits and make your quality control calendar easily accessible for everyone.
5. Maximize your tools.
Whether you choose to contract this to an outside source, or you take it on yourself, make sure you are utilizing an appropriate QC Tool. There are several great options for this, including creating your own that highlights the specific items you need to be informed on. Do your research and choose the best option available to you.
Talk to your team and any other stakeholders. Getting feedback will help you determine if your staff needs additional training, resources, or support.
7. Document the results.
This one pretty much speaks for itself. Create an easy-to-understand report of the results so you can determine your starting point for getting back on track. Make sure it will provide you and your team with the information you need to implement any needed corrections.
8. Plan and execute.
Once you have your results collected and organized, create an action plan and schedule for making corrections and then set up an all-staff meeting. Use this meeting to communicate the results of the audit and your expectations of how your agency will make the needed corrections. Share the action plan you developed and discuss any mandatory training coming up. Share your quality control calendar and make sure to address any questions your staff might have.
And last, but not least…
9. Knock your SEMAP audit out of the park!
Zig Ziglar said, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Well, this is your opportunity to succeed. Don’t be afraid to face any problem areas head on and challenge yourself and your team to provide a high-quality program you can all be proud of.
How SEMAP Works
Just in case you need a refresher, SEMAP is responsible for measuring the performance of public housing agencies who specifically administer the Housing Choice Voucher program.
SEMAP targets 14 specific areas of operations:
- Selecting applicants from the housing choice voucher waiting list
- How reasonable rent is determined for each unit leased
- Ensuring payment standards are within the range of HUD fair market rent
- Accurate verification of family income
- Timely annual reexaminations
- Correct calculation of the tenant share of the rent and the housing assistance payment
- Maintaining a current schedule of utility allowances
- Ensuring units comply with housing quality standards prior to the execution of leases and HAP contracts
- Timely annual inspections
- Ensuring landlords and tenants are promptly correcting housing quality deficiencies Performing quality control inspections to ensure housing quality
- Ensuring all available vouchers are used
- Expanding housing choice outside areas of poverty or minority concentration
- Enrolling families in the family self-sufficiency (FSS) program as required and helping FSS families achieve increases in employment income.
The process of monitoring these 14 areas is typically done through HUD’s national database of tenant information and annual audits. Each agency is then given a rating of either high, standard, or troubled.
Any agency who receives a troubled rating will then be required to develop and implement a corrective action plan, which is then monitored by HUD to ensure improvement.