Recently we had the opportunity to interview Mountainlands Community Housing Trust’s Program Manager Brian Guyer. He was part of the HomeKeepers’ Form Assembly working group and has incorporated an online application into his approval process. He works with a very small team and saw an online application form as a way to save the team from having to retype the information.
Please, briefly tell us about your background.
I am the program manager for the Ownership group Mountainlands Community Housing Trust. Our portfolio has over 200 affordable homes. including self-help homes, rent-to-own homes, deed restricted and ground lease homes. The online application form helps our small team handle the 15-20 applications we get per month. We have deployed our online application to a private page which we send to prospective home owners as a link in an email after an initial phone conversation. As a result of our program not handling funding, our application is straight forward and rather limited. Even though this is the case, we still benefit from this online from because it saves our staff between half to a full day of work per month by not having to retype information from the paper forms.
Can you talk about the HomeKeepers’ Form Assembly working group?
The working group was very valuable. We wanted an online application for several years so joining the working group helped focus our efforts. The group meetings not only provided a useful set of perspectives and a sounding board, but each meeting also had homework so we had a series of deadlines we could work toward. This broke up what had been a single large task into several smaller milestones that were achievable. I really appreciated the joint accountability the working group provided.
Is there anything that you wish you knew when you started that you know now?
If I were to go back I would interview current applicants to understand where the paper application caused problems. I would have also reviewed what is working and where we could improve with our staff. HomeKeeper takes some work on the front end and the result pays off for a small staff such as ours.