Aspen’s housing authority looking to de-clunk clunkiness of online portal

The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority is replacing its customer portal within its online platform after hearing negative feedback from users that it’s difficult to navigate.

APCHA is replacing Salesforce with a new provider, Revision Inc. and a contract for $372,000 was approved this week by Aspen City Council.

HomeTrek launched in early 2021 to eliminate the agency’s reliance on paper in managing roughly 3,000 deed-restricted units in the taxpayer-funded program.

The community portal, accessed by thousands of people, is used for qualifications; bids for purchasing units; access to unit information for owners; reporting of compliance concerns; general property management like rent payments and requests for maintenance; viewing of available inventory; submittal of capital improvement documentation; and initiating a listing for a sales unit.

While APCHA has improved the portal, it is not yet providing the streamlined, accurate, easy-to-use experience that APCHA desires for its customers, and those shortcomings have made full adoption problematic, according to APCHA Director Matthew Gillen.

The data tracking and online system requires each person who lives in a unit, or bids on one, to upload their financial information, including lists of assets and debts, tax returns, W-2s and bank statements.

The qualification packet interface has proved daunting for first-time users, as navigating the site can be cumbersome.

APCHA officials said users also have complained that it’s difficult to locate applications and submit supporting documentation.

“The goal is to make it a bit more clear,” said Maddie Feder, APCHA administrative specialist.

Revision Inc. and APCHA will spend the next several months replacing the current Salesforce customer portal with one built using WordPress and Revision.

The goal is to provide enhanced service to customers, simplify portal and website administration for staff, and reduce or eliminate Salesforce community portal costs.

“When we started looking at this project, we were hoping to achieve significant savings in licensing and there will be some with the community licensing portion to Salesforce, which is currently $61,600 a year,” Gillen told council. “We are really hoping this will increase the community access to HomeTrek, increase efficiency for us when we get the information, and we’re really hoping this will make a big difference for our clients and customers.”