FOSTER CITY, CALIF.—Managing the compliance process for a single affordable housing property often means wading through regulations. For Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition, a single property might be financed with 4 percent tax credits, HOME funds, Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program funds, and local funds from a county or a city.
“Each one has its own regulatory requirements, and it's a tremendous drain on resources to track and comply with these requirements,” says Matt Franklin, president of the Foster City, Calif.- based owner and developer.
To deal with the complexity, the company is replacing its old DOS-based property management platform with BostonPost's Property Manager software across its portfolio of 86 communities and 5,438 units.
BostonPost was developed by property management company EastPoint Properties. The company was frustrated at what was available on the market for mixed-subsidy properties, and in 1994, it began work on coming up with a better solution. The company released the product commercially in 2002, and today BostonPost has 50 employees.
BostonPost's Property Manager specializes in managing information and monitoring regulatory compliance efforts for properties with multi-layered subsidies, including Department of Housing and Urban Development Secs. 8, 202, and 236 programs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Sec. 515 program, low-income housing tax credits, HOME funds, public housing, and third-party tenant vouchers.
A few years ago, Mid-Peninsula updated its accounting system with Intuit's MRI software. But it needed an affordable housing-focused property management system that integrated with MRI. That's when the developer was introduced to BostonPost. BostonPost and Intuit established a partnership in 2008, wherein Intuit offers the software as its affordable housing solution to its existing clients.
Mid-Peninsula tested the software out in a pilot program on a few sample properties in February 2008, and a year later, 57 of the company's 86 communities were running on BostonPost. The company plans to have all communities up and running by the end of the second quarter.
One of the main benefits of the software is increased visibility of what's happening in the field. Using the old DOSbased application, site managers would produce month-end results, but with BostonPost, Mid-Peninsula can track events at the site level in real time. If a community was having trouble renting a unit in the past, for instance, headquarters wouldn't know about it until the end of the month—or through phone calls back and forth with the site.
Now, headquarters can track when the last tenant moved out, when the maintenance ended, which families are being certified to move into that unit, and what stage they're at in the verification process.
“We're able to have a lot of visibility and see results as they are happening,” says Greg Rising, Mid-Peninsula's manager of business systems. “There's a lot of collaboration we're able to do that we couldn't do before.”
The company thinks one of the primary benefits of BostonPost is in error reduction. The software's document library, for instance, ensures that the right forms are always used and gives access to current versions of company policies and procedures. The software also lets you set up a customized interface based on one's task: a rental agent, a community manager, and a regional manager all see different things when they open the software.
Mid-Peninsula has a centralized staff of 65, and its communities are spread throughout eight California counties.
“One of our biggest challenges is in staying connected with what's happening in the field,” says Franklin. “It makes us much tighter with our field operations."