Year after year, we sprint into January with a picture of what we would like to accomplish in our personal lives – getting in shape, saving more money, having better relationships. But you know, I have never known anyone who actually followed through on a New Year’s resolution. The trouble with New Year’s resolutions is that we rarely put together an actual plan and then hold ourselves accountable for our goals.
That same thing is so often true of organizations in our line of work. We want to house more homeless, build more affordable housing, and of course, create better communities. But . . . are we doing everything we could be doing to make sure that this year isn’t an exact duplication of the year before? Are we doing everything we can to deliver in bigger or better ways?
Over the past 18 months, the Arizona Department of Housing has worked hard under the leadership of Governor Ducey to implement a lean way of doing business - the Arizona Management System (AMS), to help us do better this year than we did last year. In fact, the idea is to do better every day in every way.
All around the agency, you can see evidence of how the agency is doing better at delivering on what we do since its adoption of the lean principles behind AMS. ADOH is currently working on a number of key areas of improvement that we believe will help us do better at meeting our mission. And, this doesn’t include all of those “ah-ha” moments when lean thinking simply results in our doing better with the little things.
Our Compliance Division, which is responsible for monitoring ADOH-financed rental properties, believed it would be worthwhile if the properties it monitored were able to get into compliance faster. This would more quickly improve the residents’ environments and reduce the Department’s touch time necessary for its monitoring visits. When the division first looked at this issue in July 2016, only 44 percent of properties were addressing all monitoring deficiencies by the time their responses were due to the Department. As of this past Fall, through the application of AMS principles, 87 percent of properties with findings are now correcting all noted deficiencies within 30 days of notification. Now we are concentrating on how to get the other 13 percent up to speed.
We often default into thinking we cannot do more unless we have more resources to work with, but our Rental Development Division has been working hard to turn that way of thinking around. Our Rental Development team worked diligently over the past several months to develop a lean 2018 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) geared to maximize the use of credits. Despite current challenges, such as increasing land and construction costs, as well as a potential reduction in the value of tax credits used to finance rental properties, staff have devised a plan that will help increase unit production or, at the very least, help mitigate current development challenges which are expected to negatively impact production.
If you see an area where you believe your State housing department could improve if we set our minds to it, please let us know by sending your comments to [email protected].
For more information about the Arizona Management System (AMS), visit ams.az.gov.