TAG Associates was appointed Receiver of the Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri (HAKC) by the Federal District Court of Western Missouri in September 1994. Judge Dean Whipple's Receivership Order mandated that TAG perform the contractual, legal, administrative and personnel duties for the HAKC. HUD formally labeled HAKC as "troubled" in 1991. The Authority's stock was found to be largely distressed, as evidenced by a 43% vacancy rate and a Public Housing Management Assessment Program (PHMAP) score of 44 out of a possible 100. The Housing Authority was faced with formidable challenges in all areas of its operations and was deemed to be in clear violation of the Tinsley Consent Decree, which in part, requires that the Authority maintain its housing stock in a decent, safe and sanitary manner.
The President of TAG, Jeffrey K. Lines, as Receiver, structured a recovery platform that promoted physical transformation, quality maintenance services, staff capacity building, economic viability, tenant self-sufficiency, community stability and the implementation of programs and policies that promoted the overall effectiveness of the Authority.
Each year subsequent to his appointment, the Receiver prepared and submitted for Court review and approval a comprehensive Twelve Month Improvement Plan. In each Plan, the Receiver presented the Authority's leading goals for the ensuing twelve-month period. These goals encompassed the primary objectives of the Receivership and detailed department specific objectives, tasks, performance measures and milestone dates. The Twelve Month Improvement Plans included input from public housing residents, HAKC staff, the City, HUD and the community at large.
As court-appointed Receiver, TAG has visibly demonstrated its ability to markedly improve operations and management of a public housing authority. Extensive improvements and dramatic organizational changes have occurred at the HAKC. HAKC's PHAS score improved from 44% to over 90% by 1998 and the Authority was again awarded High Performer status for both 2003 and 2004. Occupancy rates improved from 61% to over 97%. Once viewed as housing of last resort, the HAKC now represents housing of choice for low-income residents, as evidenced by the jump in the public housing waiting list from 700 in 1994 to over 4,500 families today. TAG worked extensively in the following areas:
Diagnosis of Problems: As Receiver, TAG began the engagement by performing an extensive review of operations and diagnosing the existing problems at the HAKC. TAG then developed operational improvement plans for the agency and set out to undertake corrective actions in virtually all areas of operations.
Organization and Staffing: TAG Associates particularly focused on organization and staffing at the authority. After hiring a new Executive Director, who worked directly under the President of TAG and was an employee of TAG Associates, TAG reorganized all departments to improve basic housing management services. TAG performed annual evaluations of each department and development to fine tune policies and procedures and assure continual effective functioning.
Management Information Systems: TAG aggressively improved MIS capability at the HAKC. After analyzing the existing system at the beginning of the Receivership, TAG upgraded the system to improve Authority operations and efficiently provide information for HUD and Court monitoring reports.
Admissions and Occupancy: TAG has moved the Housing Authority of Kansas City to the forefront of Public Housing Authority policy in implementing innovative public housing initiatives. Ceiling rents, which have now been changed to flat rents, were implemented to remove the disincentive for stable working families to remain in public housing created by the standard public housing rent calculation. In addition, local preferences for admission have been implemented to increase the number of working families in public housing and site-based preferences for occupancy now allow greater choice to housing applicants. TAG also revised the Housing Authority of Kansas City's Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy to comply with QHWRA.
Vacancy and Unit Turnaround: The TAG receivership team monitored the vacancy and unit turnaround rates closely and implemented corrective initiatives to assure that the units were occupied and turned around on a timely basis. A management indicator report was assembled every month to include the following: reporting the occupancy status of each development, the turnaround time, the rents collected and the projected percentages of PHAS points that would be received for each indicator. This tool was used to monitor the progress of the HAKC and to plan future management needs.
Maintenance: TAG evaluated the maintenance department and developed site-based management procedures to decrease the role of central maintenance. By scrutinizing work orders, TAG performed numerous surveys of the maintenance work productivity and materials usage. TAG also completed a comprehensive physical needs assessment and developed a comprehensive plan for Section 504, which TAG also implemented.
Modernization: TAG and the HAKC successfully applied for three HOPE VI grants for Theron B. Watkins/Wayne Miner and the Heritage House development. TAG prepared a successful Revised Revitalization Plan and obtained HUD approval for HAKC's first HOPE VI program grant for Guinotte Manor.
Finance and Accounting: Under the Receivership, the Finance Department has successfully scored above average on all PHAS financial indicators. The Finance Department has generated several new reports to assist managers in their decision making process and the Authority has a current healthy level of cash reserves.
Procurement and Contracting: TAG created the Procurement and Contracts Department at HAKC. It was created to provide greater control over the Housing Authority's procurement process and to enable effective, efficient and uniform methodologies that would ensure compliance with all federal and state regulatory requirements. This department is responsible for the acquisition of all goods and services for HAKC, as well as monitoring all contracts to ensure that the Authority receives satisfactory service and performance from all contractors.
Security and Resident Services: Under the Director of Public Safety, the HAKC has developed an effective working relationship with the Kansas City Police Department and worked towards the implementation of community policing, which has resulted in providing greater security to residents. Incidences of crime have dramatically reduced to the point where the public housing developments have lower crime rates than the city-wide average. HAKC also now provides a wide range of resident services and welfare-to-work assistance, both on-site at public housing developments and in the newly constructed Family Development and Learning Center at 299 Paseo. The Authority adopted a comprehensive resident services plan and continually seeks out new resources and community partnerships to provide social and supportive services to HAKC residents.
Real Estate Management: The Receivership undertook several large-scale development and acquisition projects that have provided residents with quality affordable housing in non-impacted communities. TAG and the HAKC successfully applied for three HOPE VI grants for the Theron B. Watkins and Heritage House developments. TAG also prepared a successful Revised Revitalization Plan and obtained HUD approval for HAKC's first HOPE VI program grant for Guinotte Manor. A highlight of these projects is the one for one replacement of all lost public housing units through the development of additional units of scattered site housing in non-impacted neighborhoods of the City. The scattered site program produced nearly 500 additional duplexes, single-family homes and town homes throughout Kansas City, both through new construction and through the modernization of existing dilapidated scattered site public housing units. The first development to receive substantial rehabilitation ($17 million MROP grant) funding under Receivership was the Riverview Gardens Development. This 232-unit development now houses the Family Development and Learning Center (created with HOPE VI funds), a one-stop center providing a host of services to enable residents to move towards economic self-sufficiency. With over 1900 revitalized public housing units and 7500 housing choice vouchers, the HAKC, under the governance of the Receivership, increased the accessibility, supply and quality of affordable housing to the Kansas City Community. The Authority now serves more than twice the number of households than it did at the start of the Receivership.
Training: TAG provided extensive training for staff at HAKC in numerous areas, including: PHAS, Capital Fund Program, alternative management, procurement/contracting, occupancy and screening, finance and budgeting, HOPE VI and resident services. In addition to the extensive physical transformation and acquisition projects undertaken during the Receivership, a key element to recovery was the establishment of strong reporting structures within the Authority, which lead to the direct accountability of HAKC staff members as to performance. TAG Associates' role as Receiver has changed recently to that of a Special Master for an initial 12 month period as a result of a court order which allows the delegation of certain decision-making authorities to a new Board, subject to Special Master oversight. In preparation for this transition, TAG structured a post-receivership governance process which included the passage of state enabling legislation changing the legislative structure governing public housing in Kansas City, the recruitment and training of a new Board of Commissioners and a modified reporting format to reflect the status of current HAKC operations.
TAG Associates' role as Receiver has now changed to that of a Special Master as a result of a court order which allows the delegation of certain decision-making powers to a new Board, subject to Special Master oversight. In preparation for this transition, TAG structured a post-receivership governance process which included the passage of state enabling legislation, the recruitment and training of a new Board of Commissioners and a modified reporting format to reflect the status of current HAKC operations.
Independent Management Team for the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) (1994-2000) and Technical Assistane Provider (2000-present)
In a joint venture with the McHenry Company, TAG Associates of the District of Columbia, Inc. (TAG of D.C.) provided strategic technical assistance in a number of management areas to the District of Columbia Housing Authority. Technical assistance covered all major areas of management and operations. TAG retained a full-time, on-site Project Manager to coordinate management with the DCHA on a daily basis. Areas of activity have included:
Selected Relevant Technical Assistance
Organization and Staffing: TAG developed strategies, procedures and policies for reorganizing management and staffing of all departments within the DCHA to reflect a site-based management approach. This reorganization successfully refocused an enormous amount of the agency's resources from centralized administrative services to actual on-site service delivery, i.e., increased housing management and maintenance services.
Through a participatory process, TAG Associates developed detailed operating procedures and policies for all departments in the housing authority. TAG performed in-depth reviews of all departments, identified problems and recommended solutions for improving operating practices.
Management Information Systems: TAG oversaw the creation of an MIS function for the DCHA as it transitioned from functioning as a Department of the District Government to an independent Authority. As part of this transition, TAG oversaw the acquisition and implementation of an integrated public housing software package, the development of a software acquisition strategy, and the outsourcing of the management of its IT services.
Admissions and Occupancy: TAG's role in this area focused on an assessment of existing operations and making recommendations for improvements, assisting in revising the agency Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan (ACOP) and assisting in developing a reduced reliance on centralized staff in favor of a greater role for site based management staff in screening and lease-up responsibilities.
Vacancies and Unit Turnaround: TAG helped developed procedures for reducing vacancies and improving unit turnaround. In addition, TAG assisted in developing procedures for site-based unit preparation, including staffing, budgets and estimated workloads. After performing an in-depth analysis, TAG developed comprehensive recommendations and assisted the Authority with implementation.
Maintenance and Modernization: After a thorough workload analysis, TAG identified strategies to increase productivity and reduce overtime. TAG finalized sector maintenance work plans and procedures. TAG organized the regionalization of the maintenance response. After a HUD-appointed contractor left DCHA, TAG oversaw the modernization program and its subsequent transition to internal management.
Finance and Accounting: Early on during the separation of DCHA from the District government, TAG Associates developed a financial workout plan for DCHA. The plan presented a three-year financial course of action for the Authority to successfully carry out critical objectives while maintaining and improving its financial health. The DCHA has regularly received above average PHAS financial indicator scores as a subsequent result.
TAG continues to oversee the operations of the finance division and all accounting and budgeting functions, including cash management, payables, receivables, payroll and grants management. In this capacity, it has assisted in the writing of all accounting and budgeting procedures, trained staff, developed financial plans, improved transaction accuracy and timeliness and helped to improve the operating reserve levels of the agency.
Procurement and Contracting: As part of the establishment of DCHA in its separation from District government, TAG helped organize an independent procurement function for the agency. Under the direction of the Receiver, TAG performed a comprehensive assessment of the department and made detailed recommendations to the Receiver. Some of the problems identified include excessive staffing, the inability to write effective specifications, the inability to execute contracts and numerous HUD findings. Since that time, TAG has assisted in writing procedures, reorganizing the department and decentralizing the duties to rely more on field staff in the procurement and contracting processes.
Security and Resident Services: In the area of Resident Services, TAG has assisted the agency in re-directing its focus by reducing its reliance on limited operating funding and aggressively pursuing grant funding. This approach has lead to increased funding and increased services available for public housing residents.
Energy Consumption and Conservation: TAG has assessed DCHA's utility consumption records and prepared the authority to pursue an energy and water conservation services performance contract. TAG oversaw the development of a current and regularly updated utility allowance schedule.
Section 8: TAG has worked with the Section 8 Director to realign and reassign staffing in an effort to accomplish three things: improve productivity, improve program compliance and improve lease up. All of these efforts have been successful. The program has more units under lease than ever before, the occupancy rate is up, audit findings are down and administrative fee reserves have increased.
Real Estate Management: TAG assisted in the on-going development of an asset management capability that allows the DCHA to manage its own sites and oversee private-management companies. These procedures are performance-oriented and include methods for evaluating the property management on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. As a result of TAG's efforts, the authority has increased rent collections and improved occupancy rates.