Resident Services: More Than Just a Cost Center

3 min read

Today the relationship between the resident and owner extends beyond the exchange of money for housing.

In order to be competitive for new housing subsidies in most jurisdictions, the implementation of a resident services program is practically a threshold requirement. Of course, funding an effective program is a challenge. Grants to pay for resident service coordinators and operate effective programs are hard to come by and, if you are like most the owners I talk to, you do not necessarily have sufficient cash flow at all of your properties to sufficiently self-fund local programs. Nonetheless, I think most people in this business understand the positive impacts these programs have on the lives of their residents but you may not realize how they can contribute to your bottom line. Yes, resident services are usually a cost-center, but in this month’s column I also wanted to talk about how they can be shaped to be a savings center.

Benefits from Resident Services

There are obvious benefits, of course. Residents that participate in service programs have longer tenures and are less likely to be delinquent on their rent. And we all know that after-school programs reduce incidents of vandalism at the property and crime in the neighborhood. What is even more exciting is how some developers are tying their existing resident service programs into broader sustainability initiatives and dramatically reducing operating expenses.

For example, we learned at NH&RA’s July 14 Preservation Through Energy Efficiency Road Show in Denver, Colo., that by incorporating sustainability and recycling education into resident services programs across its portfolio, Eden Housing has been able to reduce energy costs per property by anywhere from 15% to 77%, and trash costs per property by 20%-25%. That kind of savings adds up to REAL money. I don’t want to gloss over the hard work it took to achieve these results – Eden also invested in physical measures at their properties and, perhaps just as importantly, engaged its staff to achieve these results.

Chicago Success Story

Another success story is an exciting competition piloted by the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation (HHDC), Enterprise Community Partners, and the City of Chicago. In this example, the seven properties operated by HHDC participated in a competition to reduce utility expenditures. Through their resident outreach channels, HHDC and Enterprise hosted workshops and designed materials aimed at sustainability efforts.

The end results? Individual utility reduction rates ranging from 40%-70% for participating units, with all seven properties reducing water usage, and six of seven reducing electricity usage from the same period the year before, which is really saying something considering the historically cold winter endured by Chicago. The savings across the seven properties during the six-month competition exceeded $22,000. You can learn more about the lessons learned from this competition and how you can apply them to your portfolio at:

In TCA this month you will learn about exciting strategies to fund and implement effective resident service programs and my message to you is to think about them holistically and leverage them to support your residents, as well as the profitability of your portfolio.

Thom Amdur is Associate Publisher of Tax Credit Advisor and Executive Director of National Housing & Rehabilitation Association