Public and subsidized housing has long suffered from myriad systemic problems – including many apartments in need of repairs, overworked housing inspectors, and budgetary restraints – and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. In Washington, D.C., almost one-third of public housing properties are in danger of being uninhabitable and in some cities, properties may get inspected just once every 24 months.
It’s a problem that SAP partner BoodsKapper is trying to fix through artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology. The Dallas-based company has created an innovative virtual assistant solution that streamlines and improves many functions within local housing authorities, improving inspector accountability, and optimizing route schedules that the company believes can improve living conditions for lower-income residents.
“All housing authorities are coming under fire. Like many agencies, budget restraints require them to do more with less while providing housing to the needy,” said Bejoy Narayana, BoodsKapper CEO. “Public housing authorities need help. HUD has shed staff and there are simply too many properties and not enough resources to inspect them. Our solution streamlines the process and helps provide families the safe and adequate housing they need.”
The Dallas Housing Authority implemented BoodsKapper’s Housing Choice Voucher program assistant last year and realized several benefits within a short period of time. Among the improvements:
- Section 8 property inspector productivity increased 30%
- No-shows declined to less than 1%
- 20% savings on housing authority fuel/travel costs
- Better engagement with landlords and clients
“BoodsKapper has been a game changer for us,” said Troy Broussard, CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority. “We’re able to inspect more properties and instead of being overtaxed, our inspectors can be more proactive with clients, which helps us manage healthier, safer places to live.”
Using new technology to solve an old problem
Section 8 housing was created during the Great Depression as a rental assistance program for the federal government to subsidize rent and utilities for lower-income citizens. Over the years, the number of properties and residents leveraging Section 8 housing has increased, but the business processes behind management of the system have lagged behind, said BoodsKapper’s Narayana.
To help, BoodsKapper’s Virtual Office Assistant for Public Housing Authorities leverages AI/machine learning to analyze data from inspectors to improve inspection schedules, reduce travel time, and realize several other benefits, Narayana said.
BoodsKapper’s solution also instills more accountability for inspectors in the field. The solution randomizes inspectors’ routes, dramatically reducing the chances that the same inspector sees the same property twice.
“We optimize the inspection routes. If there are 16 inspectors going to a total of 160 places a day, there are millions of possible routes. Everyone is going to different places every day, but their driving time is also down because we optimize routes,” Narayana said.
In addition, the solution can analyze social media content to see what users/residents are saying about their apartments and landlords.
BoodsKapper’s virtual office assistant solution can also be applied to other industries, Narayana said. The company recently sold the solution into an air conditioning repair business in Dallas and offers a similar virtual supply chain analyst solution for food manufacturers.
Based on its success with the Dallas Housing Authority, BoodsKapper is also targeting other regional public housing agencies. There are eight to 10 in North Texas alone, Narayana said.
Inspectors in Dallas now have a mobile app, so housing authority management can see where inspectors are and what’s happening at the properties.
“We believe this will lead to improved housing,” Narayana said. “The system learns from the data. It really creates efficiencies. The Dallas Housing Authority has always been in the forefront of technology adoption. With our new software, initial inspections are done on the same day and annual inspections are done within the same month.”
In addition, landlords from high opportunity areas are becoming more receptive to accepting the housing choice vouchers. With more apartments available in high opportunity areas, life outcomes are getting better for the tenants as well, Narayana said.
“Inspectors have time to talk to people and almost become like counselors. They’re adding more value to the agency and to Section 8 residents,” Narayana said.
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Learn other ways technology is improving vulnerable people’s lives in “How A Purpose-Driven Finance Team Is Doing Good – From Germany To Rwanda.”