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GCN : May 2014
CASE STUDY SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE The San Antonio Hous- ing Authority is using a cloud-based, electronic signature service that lets the agency and participating land- lords electronically sign and transmit documents, dramati- cally reducing the time it takes to process housing assistance payment contracts. The service, Adobe EchoSign, has cut the turnaround time for processing contracts and provid- ing payment to property own- ers and landlords participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program from 90 days to a mat- ter of hours. Previously, SAHA staff had to print out contracts and support- ing materials, stuff the enve- lopes, pay for mailing and then wait for the landlords to receive the materials, sign them and send them back for additional processing, said Deborah Ale- man, SAHA s director of assisted housing. Three years ago, SAHA con- ducted a complete analysis of the process cycle times for the voucher program, including how long it took to get back signed contracts from landlords. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, better known as Sec- tion 8, is the federal govern- ment s major program for assist- ing very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Housing vouchers are issued to qualified tenants by public housing agencies, which receive federal funds from the Depart- ment of Housing and Urban Development. Once a property owner accepts the voucher and agrees to the conditions of the program, the tenant brings the voucher back to SAHA, which sends out the necessary docu- ments to the landlords. Typical turnaround time was 30 days, but in some worse cas- es it could take 60 to 90 days. Funding cuts put more con- straints on the agency to deliver efficient services to customers, but with more limited resources. As a result, SAHA began explor- ing innovative solutions to re- duce the turnaround time for Housing Assistance Program (HAP) contracts. "My staff was tasked with identifying opportunities to improve our customer services delivery through technology," a challenging job since technol- ogy is constantly changing, Ale- man said. In March 2012, SAHA signed on with Adobe EchoSign Enter- prise for a 60-user subscription With Adobe EchoSign, San Antonio has cut the turnaround time for processing contracts and payments for property owners and landlords from 90 days to a matter of hours E-signatures speed housing assistance BY RUTRELL YASIN 30 GCN MAY 2014 • GCN.COM State and local agencies are looking for ways to do more with fewer resources, but at the same time maintain quality. The trick is to work smarter not harder. -- DEBORAH ALEMAN, SAN ANTONIO HOUSING ASSOCIATION