Aspen’s affordable housing program enters 21st Century
New online platform allows for all business and real time information for Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s 3,000 units to be done through HomeTrek
The $1.4 million data tracking and online system for Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s 3,000 units has been launched after over a year of build-out and testing.
HomeTrek is a census of sorts for the aging and growing inventory, and will require each person living in a deed-restricted unit to provide necessary information.
Prior to HomeTrek’s rollout, APCHA did not have a full account of all of its deed-restricted properties in the city and county because of its paper-based system.
The platform allows current residents of APCHA ownership and rental units, as well as those who are interested in applying or bidding on properties, the ability to do all business online rather than on paper. It also gives the public real time information data on all of the units in the inventory.
HomeTrek users can now complete their qualification application online, submit interest for an available APCHA-managed rental unit, place a bid for lottery ownership units, and see the valuation of their ownership unit.
The concept is two years in the making and was originally launched by former APCHA executive director Mike Kosdrosky, who identified that the housing authority’s antiquated system was a disservice to the program.
Going from paper-based to automated is one of the biggest changes to the agency in decades.
Funded by real estate and sales taxes and developer fees, APCHA is one of the first workforce housing agencies in the country and the first in Colorado when it was established in the late 1970s.
APCHA now controls billions of dollars worth of real estate and without a system like HomeTrek, it did not have a robust way to track who owns what and who is living where.
“HomeTrek isn’t just a platform that makes our program participants’ lives easier,” said Diane Foster, assistant city manager of Aspen and interim director of APCHA in a press release. “It is also a safe and secure program that will digitally store data for our organization, streamlining our processes and helping us improve housing offerings.”
Slate Communications has been part of the HomeTrek team, along with India-based IT consultant, Hexaware, which built the system.
That communications strategy, according to its CEO, Kim Newcomer at a January 2020 APCHA board meeting, included connecting with participants, citizens and elected officials to explain why HomeTrek is so crucial to the program’s future, as well as how critical APCHA is for the health of the community.
HomeTrek also is about increasing accountability and transparency for an agency that has trust issues with some members of the community.
A soft launch occurred last week with a small group of users to ensure that any questions that were asked would be able to get answered, said Bethany Spitz, APCHA’s compliance manager, during a demo of the website on Wednesday.
“We found that not a ton of questions came our way so we are pretty excited and we felt we could actually launch a little bit quicker than we had originally anticipated,” she said.
For more information, log onto apcha.org/hometrek and click on the “HomeTrek is Live” link.
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