Affordable housing developer C. Fred Cornforth wasn’t always happy with the workshops and programs the residents in his affordable housing developments were receiving.
“There was very inconsistent quality of delivery,” he said.
In addition, it’s not uncommon for families in the apartment communities to hold two jobs, making it tough for them to attend the computer classes, financial workshops, or other presentations offered at their developments.
To try to fix these problems, Cornforth recently launched Ascendant Education, a Web-based program.
The site, http://ascendanteducation.org features articles on money management, career advancement, parenting, and other topics to help residents. “It’s like offering residents a subscription to a magazine,” said Cornforth, CEO of Community Development, Inc. (CDI), a nonprofit affordable housing provider based in Idaho.
Residents will receive information and tutorials that are better than what is often found in some areas, and they can access the content at their convenience, he said.
About 60 to 70 properties with about 5,000 units are in various stages of signing up for the program.
Cornforth acknowledged that residents miss out on the human connection that they would get with an in-person presentation. However, he estimated that less than 5 percent of residents attend service programs. “We are seeing there are four times that response when a resident can access the information online, when they have time, and in the privacy of their own home,” he said.
He added the site could help developers make their applications for low-income housing tax credits more competitive. Most states have some type of requirement to offer supportive services.
Ascendant, a for-profit partnership with Advanced Life Resources, is one more amenity that developers can offer.
The cost is $1 per unit each month. Site managers are able to track how many hours people log on to the site to help them with their compliance reporting.
Sponsors of the site include CDI and Morgan Stanley.