What is Affordable Housing Accreditation?
Affordable Housing Accreditation is a peer-review process that evaluates an organization’s management of its housing operations against affordable housing industry standards to determine its conformance. The organization applying for accreditation describes how it’s meeting the standards through concise narratives and providing examples. The Affordable Housing Accreditation Board makes the final determination on conformance with the standards and shares best practices with the industry. Affordable housing organizations that become accredited have demonstrated their conformance and commitment to the eight standards adopted by the industry.
What is the Purpose of Accreditation?
The purpose of accreditation in affordable housing is to identify and promote best practices in the management of affordable housing operations. Accreditation evaluates the organization neutrally and holistically – from how an organization is governed, and leads, to how residents are treated and supported in the community. Accreditation also enables an organization to create better relationships within the community-at-large, with staff, and with residents through more transparent operations. Achieving affordable housing accreditation demonstrates the organization is committed to the industry’s high-quality standards of operating an affordable housing organization.
How Does Accreditation Benefit the Community and Tenants?
Accreditation promotes public trust for the community-at-large by demonstrating the organization has gone through a comprehensive review of its operations, by industry peers, and has been validated that it is meeting industry standards. Residents also benefit from living in a community run by an accredited organization in that housing policies are well-defined, customer service is excellent when dealing with maintenance issues, and they are treated with dignity at all times.
Reasons Accreditation Improves on “Just Complying”
Diana McWilliams, CEO of AHAB has experienced how effective accreditation standards can be for helping an organization review and implement more effective practices, “Establishing and using industry standards in your everyday operations allows an organization to be proactive in addressing the inevitable challenges that come along with complex operations. Instead of working hard to comply with regulations that are not always an indication of our performance, we can put in place tried and true best practices to see us through those challenges. Getting ourselves out of crisis management by utilizing best practices is what accreditation is all about.”
Examples of the Accreditation Process
Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
Tony O’Leary – retired Executive Director
“As in most organizations, we had many staff at different career points, different knowledge levels and different perspectives as to what was important to AMHA. Getting ready for the process of accreditation was a very good means of seeing staff differences, gaps in knowledge and then pulling everyone together on common goals.”
Keith LePrevost, Executive Director,
Hightstown Housing Authority, “Great that it is an educational experience for the staff and board to better understand and acknowledge the larger role we are playing in the community. Being able to compare our operations and resident interaction with other providers will help us and hopefully others expand, refine or enhance their programs.”
Andrew Lofton, Executive Director, Seattle Housing Authority,
“We found the accreditation process valuable. It provided an opportunity for us to conduct a focused review of our practices against industry-established standards and have our high performance confirmed by an independent third party. It also provides a methodology that will help us ensure we continue to maintain and build on that performance.”
Summary: Accreditation is Far more than Compliance
Achieving accreditation brings shared satisfaction among executive leadership, staff, board, and residents. Pride and recognition of this accomplishment publicly highlight the high-quality work the accredited organization performs daily. An enhanced spirit of teamwork and understanding of what “quality” means is felt as the organization experiences evaluation activities redefined from compliance to becoming accredited.