Affordable housing providers are a busy group. Every day, you juggle multiple competing priorities with limited time and resources, with scant room for projects that don’t advance your organization’s mission. If you’ve ever wondered whether accreditation is worth your time, here are four benefits of pursuing the designation through the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board (AHAB).(Note: This blog was submitted by the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board’s assistant director, Jeffrey D. Weslow)
1. You’ll get recognized by an independent, highly respected industry organization.
When an organization with a stringent, peer-reviewed process accredits an agency, people are more likely to believe that the organization is a top performer. After becoming accredited through AHAB, Mary Zissimos, Esq., general counsel at Chester Housing Authority (PA), experienced just that. “We are better able to partner with outside organizations, banks, and vendors. Accreditation brings new respect to our organization, with a veil of added professionalism in our dealings in the community,” she said.
2. Accreditation can help you verify how well you’re meeting key standards of excellence.
For decades, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has required public housing organizations to meet certain standards in order to receive government funding. As you are no doubt already aware, HUD’s Public Housing Assessment System, or PHAS, as it’s known, focuses on four key areas: governance, financial management, compliance, and operational performance, and scores the agency accordingly. While PHAS is an effective measure of a public housing agency’s performance, industry stakeholders have long since felt that other areas should be considered. Developed by those same stakeholders, AHAB accreditation evaluates everything HUD’s PHAS program does plus four new standards: executive leadership team, customer service, community engagement, and resident quality of life. By looking at a wider set of criteria, AHAB accreditation gives housing organizations a more holistic view of their performance. “The feedback [AHAB accreditation] provides not only validates the good work we are doing but also gives us information we can use to continuously improve going forward,” said Keith LePrevost, executive director of Hightstown Housing Authority (NJ).
3. Your communication with your stakeholders will improve.
Every AHAB-accredited agency reported improved communication as a result of the accreditation process. This is due in part to the collaboration that AHAB requires, not only with leadership, but also with residents, community members, and local businesses. The process also requires agencies to update their policies and procedures and to put them in writing, which helps ensure that everyone is working from the same set of expectations. Tony O’Leary, former executive director at Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (OH), said, “We wanted to go through the accreditation to improve operations and create innovative policies. [AHAB] helped us get all of our policies, practices, and procedures in one spot so we could develop and share best practices.”
4. You’ll improve your standing in the local community.
Affordable housing isn’t always a welcome addition to a community, but you can improve your standing by becoming accredited. In fact, one of AHAB’s eight standards is specifically focused on community engagement and improvement. This standard asks you to self-evaluate things like how you promote collaborative strategies to address the community’s needs, and whether you engage with the community for planning and development.
If you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about getting accredited with the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board, visit housingaccreditation.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-253-4006.