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Just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday June 13, “Angela” logged on to DCHA’s web app to search for a new job. The 40-year-old college graduate uses a housing voucher to help her pay rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Northeast, D.C. where she lives with her teenage son. Unbeknownst to Angela, her late night job search was the 100,000th time a DCHA customer logged on to the web app that the agency launched 18 months ago.

Angela was using BenefitsGPS, a web app that provided her with employment, job training, healthcare, education, and other social services and employment opportunities. All the information generated by the web app was tailored to her specific needs. That is, she received information that considered her individual work experience, her location in the District, and the available transportation options. Although she was looking for a new job during Tuesday’s search, Angela could have also updated her housing application, scheduled a meeting with DCHA staff, or checked the results of a housing inspection. 

“Navigating online business environments is essential and access to the web, texting, and email are the utilities of modern life, regardless of a person’s income,” said Richard White, DCHA’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications. “Each day our customers are traversing the internet on cellular and public access Wi-Fi to make purchases, to apply for jobs, or to communicate with a child’s school. The data tell us that our customers are active online. It made sense to meet our customers where they are…online.”

DCHA leverages the 23,000 incoming customer phone calls it receives per month to gather email addresses and cellphone numbers. By harvesting these points of contact, DCHA is able to send more than 22,000 text messages and 6,000 robo-calls to customer households each month.

Other organizations also report changes resulting from cellular access, “There has been an increase in the use of smartphones to help close the literacy gap,” said Kenneth Parker, Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers and Advocates. “Today’s phones create a more even playing field where people are able to do online research, find the correct spelling or definitions of unfamiliar words, use calculators to help with budgeting, and use numerous other similar apps.”

An estimated 40 percent of the District’s citizens live in homes that are receiving or are seeking to receive rental assistance from DCHA. Approximately 13,161 people live in properties owned by DCHA, another 37,295 live in homes participating in the HCVP program where the agency provides a housing voucher to help pay rent in privately owned homes, and the balance live in households that are on DCHA’s waiting list and are seeking rental assistance.

DCHA makes its web apps available to all DCHA customers who receive housing assistance as well as those who are on the waitlist and seeking assistance.

 

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Last modified: 6/15/2017 9:26:57 AM