Within a tight turnaround time, Wipfli built an online application for the Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) that:
- Saved their team over two days in intaking and processing time for every rental assistance application submitted.
- Redirected overwhelming program demand from the call center to the website — helping eliminate the 3-5 days it took the CAPK team to return each applicant’s phone call and begin the application process.
Now, once the client fills out their application online, the CAPK team completes it and sends it to the Housing Authority within the next day.
With $16 million in CARES Act stimulus funding to disperse by the end of 2020, CAPK and the Housing Authority of the County of Kern had limited time to get a rental assistance program up and running. They worked together to build out the program — from creating policies and procedures to defining eligibility — but the intake process proved to be a speedbump.
The process was almost entirely manual. For every applicant phoning into the call center, CAPK employees had to enter their information into the system, scan supporting documentation, perform calculations in Excel to determine eligibility and rental assistance amounts, fill out a formal paper application and more. It was a lot of manual, duplicate entry across systems that was only compounded by an extremely high call volume of people who needed rental assistance as fast as CAPK and the Housing Authority could provide it.
The overall process was overwhelming for CAPK employees, but its 3–5-day callback period was equally frustrating for applicants. CAPK needed to make the process faster and more efficient.
CAPK had already been working with Wipfli to get Microsoft Dynamics 365 up and running for a separate program, with the goal of eventually uniting all programs under the technology. CAPK asked Wipfli to pivot and use Dynamics to streamline the application process, and to do so in under three weeks to meet the program launch date.
With the Dynamics 365 infrastructure already in place, the Wipfli team was able to build off that foundation and go live with the online application process in just two weeks, taking a third week to perform critical enhancements.
Because the Housing Authority required applications to be in a specific format, Wipfli included the agency in initial conversations, design calls and demos alongside the CAPK team so they, too, would be comfortable with the solution Wipfli was building.
The new application process allows applicants to provide all their information, including supporting documentation, online. The scoring and verification rules are now automated, quickly determining eligibility and the rental assistance amount. Even if the applicant calls in, this automation saves CAPK time by eliminating the step that required duplicate entry into Excel. CAPK employees also have a one-click option to compile the entire application packet in the format required by the Housing Authority.
The CAPK team is very happy with the new process, calling it easy and user-friendly. With no more duplicate data entry, it has saved them significant time. Before, it took 2-3 days to complete one application. Now, it takes just two hours. And there’s no more 3-5 day backlog for returning applicant’s phone calls. Once the client fills out the application online, it’s completed and sent to the Housing Authority within the next day. The whole process, start to finish, is also easily reported and audited against, which is another big benefit for CAPK.
Knowing rental assistance will be needed well into 2021, CAPK has plans to create its own rental assistance program separate from the Housing Authority. They have peace of mind knowing they can use the technology Wipfli built to easily transition the program to the long-term.
Established in 1965, Community Action Partnership of Kern administers close to a dozen programs aimed at meeting children, families and individuals at their point of need, for those who have had difficulty engaging the “American Dream.” CAPK’s mission is to provide and advocate for resources that will empower members of the communities they serve to be self-sufficient.