Private contractors are becoming a reality in the world of public housing. Growing costs, increased complexities and the training of staff has made managing voucher programs extremely difficult. Enter the contractor. I am making zero recommendations here but just giving an overview of some of the major players in the game. I have friends who swears by some of these companies and I know others who say a PHA is better off just keeping the management of the program in house. Whether or not your agency decides to outsource the management of your voucher program is something leadership and your board would need to study closely. However; if that is something your agency is interested in, here are three major companies doing that work.
- Quadel: Quadel currently directly manages HCV programs in Tennessee and in the Baltimore region. All told, they are operating around 12,000 vouchers as a company. They do everything from intake, leasing, continuing occupancy and wait list management to inspections and relocation. You can also hire Quadel to do training, staff augmentation for short periods if needed or even consulting services. They have been around for a while and are pretty well known in the industry. Of interest, it looks like Quadel used to be in Chicago and Newark but are no longer working with those companies. It could just be that the housing authorities decided to manage their own programs or went in a different direction. However; it might be worth doing some background research if you are looking for help with program administration.
- Nan McKay: Nan McKay is a leader within the training and policy arena. Thousands of public housing employees have taken course ranging from HQS training to public housing manager certifications. In the last several years Nan McKay has also gotten more into the realm of policy and program administration. Nan McKay’s model Administrative Plan and ACOP plans have been godsends for agencies that are too small to run a comprehensive policy shop. Nan McKay is now managing several housing authorities housing choice voucher programs. Included in this portfolio are the Miami Dade County Housing Authority, Parts of the Chicago Housing Authority and a few others I am not sure of. In 2014, a blog on their website said they were managing over 33,000 vouchers. I am sure the number is higher now. Of note, they are doing some really innovative work around owner and client portals. They even offer online reviews and interims. I think the system looks good and I am sure it will be improved within the upcoming years as more clients use it.
- You can get a feel for the culture at their agency by looking them up on Glassdoor. I will say this for all three companies I review, use caution when reading Glassdoor reviews. A lot of disgruntled ex-employees post so it is hard to get a solid read on company culture.
- CVR and Associates: This company has worked in the affordable housing arena for quite sometime. They handled program administration for the Chicago Housing Authority in conjunction with Nan McKay. This seems a bit strange to have one voucher program ran by two different companies but nothing with the Chicago Housing Authority is normal. That is not a negative comment but more of a statement to the size and complexity of their agency. CVR claims on their website to be administering 46,000 vouchers. If that is true, that would make them the largest contractor that I know of working in the HCV world. They have 400 employees which is also substantial. As with Nan McKay, it is worth doing a spin on Glassdoor to get a taste of what employees have to say but be somewhat skeptical when doing so. CVR is also famous for its work in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was in trouble with HUD and from all the research I can find, CVR did a pretty good job getting it back into a better spot.
Conclusion: The public housing world is starting to look more and more to private companies to come in and run parts if not all of their public housing programs. As costs sky rocket, it is a prudent action to take. There are probably some other players in the market but I believe these three to be the biggest. If your agency is considering hiring an outside contractor, do your due diligence and make sure you would be better off before going down that road.