NTXInno: DHA Transforms Affordable Housing

West Dallas wasn’t incorporated into the city until 1954. Even after it was annexed, the community was mostly known for having one of the highest concentrations of public housing in the country, along with harmful pollution from a nearby smelter facility. Now, it is one of the faster-growing neighborhoods in the city, transformed into a vibrant community. Rows of brick public housing complexes have been replaced by low-income apartments and community centers.

Much of this change was spurred on by the Dallas Housing Authority (DHA), a quasi-governmental agency providing affordable housing, support and resources to low-income residents of the city. And recently, the organization has been upgrading itself with the implementation of AI platform InspectionMate.

“We knew that we needed to address some of our operational weaknesses, and we think through this technology platform we’ve done that,” said Troy Broussard, DHA CEO. “We’re trying to develop platforms that meet our families where their needs are… Unless your basic needs are met, you can’t handle all these other needs, and housing is your most basic of all human needs.”

The DHA began using InspectionMate in July, and the program is already benefitting the organization, as well as the families that it serves. The software uses AI to help make many of the organization’s processes more efficient, with a focus on one of the DHA’s primary functions: inspecting potential units for clients.

One aspect of the technology creates optimized routes for drivers, reducing time and fuel costs. It also allows drivers to communicate with property owners, making appointments timelier and more accurate. In addition, it allows for property owners to track inspectors on their way to a property, much like on an app like Uber’s.

While there are different types and tiers of inspections conducted by the DHA, one of the most important is a quality inspection carried out before a potential client moves into a unit. Since last November, when the DHA began beta-testing, it has used the software to conduct nearly 14,500 inspections. Broussard said that typically it would take up to 15 business days to set up and conduct an inspection, but with the help of InspectionMate it normally only takes two or three days.

“We think that will help the business community say ‘yes’ to our process and our families, which is important,” he said. “We think it’s the tip of the iceberg… and so, as we continue to realize the impact of this technology, I think it will be transformative for our families – which is the bottom line.”

InspectionMate was developed by Dallas-based AI software developer BoodsKapper, which was founded in 2016.

Broussard said the relationship between the DHA and the government and business community is important, since many of the DHA clients with public housing vouchers rely on private landlords for a unit. He said that while there are a number of factors and variables, about 70 percent of clients are unable to find housing within the 90-day window the voucher is valid for.

“Our team is inspired by the fact that we get an opportunity to work on addressing the shortage of affordable housing,” said Bejoy Narayana, CEO of BoodsKapper in a press release. “When we expedite the inspection process, it addresses an identified barrier for our business partners, private market landlords, and ultimately families are able to move into their homes faster.”

The DHA is planning on expanding its use of InspectionMate’s AI technology. As the platform is expanded, the organization hopes to begin adding features for clients that will allow them to track the progress and status of their application, as well as engage with the DHA’s other resources via the software.

The DHA helps support about 17,000 families across seven counties. It hopes that with the success of the program in Dallas, it will soon be adopted and rolled out by other public housing authorities, allowing for the sharing of more resources.

“Often times, some of the families we encounter have lost a sense of hope,” Broussard said. “Hopefully, we’re driving that change to where [clients are] plugging into us at a different level in terms of resources and our responsiveness to their needs as a unique family, and the affordable housing is just a piece of that, that we use to give them a sense of hope.”

 

To view the original article from NTXInno, please visit: http://bit.ly/2mnbx1F

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