Recovery Tools for Affordable Housing Operations

Regulation | May 06, 2020 | by Juliana Bilowich

As the country pivots from crisis-management to recovery mode, affordable senior housing providers position themselves for the next phase of the COVID-19 crisis.

For both providers and residents, COVID-19 upended many aspects of daily life at affordable housing communities. As some providers shift from crisis-management to recovery, HUD has encouraged the use of capacity building tools to help shift operations and learn from the crisis.

With older adults uniquely at-risk for the virus, senior housing providers are taking careful considerations for “reopening.” In its COVID-19 FAQs, HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing has recommended providers utilize a “Capacity-Building Toolkit” that addresses emergency planning for aging and disabled networks.

The toolkit offers several key worksheets for use by housing providers moving into the recovery phase. The worksheets focus on restarting safely and positioning operations better for the next, or for the ongoing, crisis.

  • Hot Wash Question Template - A tool for staff and management to focuses on deliberate and cooperative restarting of operations, with an eye toward identifying and applying lessons from the crisis. The worksheet guides teams to identify what worked well during the response and what can be improved. Providers can take this a step further to ask what COVID-19 adaptations should be continued during the next phases of the crisis (like flexible remote work options for staff or increased resident communication tactics), and which should be discontinued (like extended hardship exemptions or temporary “appreciation pay”).
  • ADA Compliant Pre-Pandemic Employee Survey – An ADA-compliant sample survey to help organizations plan for employee absenteeism during a pandemic. This helps employers identify non-medical reasons (that are on equal footing with medical reasons) that an employee may miss work during a crisis. For example, a property employee may be unable to come to work due to certain risk factors, or due to child care, transportation, or other services needs. The worksheet, which was developed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, gives an employee the option to select a “yes” answer without specifying a specific factor.
  • Individual Job Continuity Planning Worksheet – A worksheet to plan for continued operations during emergency and recovery phases. The chart helps staff identify job functions that can and should be continued and how they should be modified or prioritized in response to a crisis. The worksheet also prompts staff to consider dependencies for job functions (who/what they rely on and who/what relies on them), as well as plans for alternatives (feasibility and needs for different working conditions, like resident files or virtual service coordinator wellness checks).
  • Risk Assessment Table – A tool for assessing risks in your operations. The table identifies vulnerabilities or weaknesses by creating an “Overall Hazard Rating” for various operations, which will help prioritize and plan for emergencies and recovery. The charts considers people, property, operations, environment, and entities, and helps pair them with hazard probabilities and magnitudes. Reviewing the resulting risk assessment can help providers determine what actions should be taken to reduce impacts, like continuing a Limit Access Policy at housing communities or requesting reserve releases for emergency expenses.

The full emergency planning toolkit is available online, with worksheets in the appendix section at the end.