In his work in the affordable housing sector, Shelterforce’s Frankie Blackburn has found little appreciation of, and few resources directed toward, the position of property manager in low-income housing, which he contends leads to negative consequences for managers and residents alike.
The one universal ingredient I repeatedly encounter in each new housing context is the lack of careful and/or creative attention to how to recruit, hire, train, support, and manage the property manager, especially in relation to other aspects of the affordable housing development process.
Blackburn and his business partner, Bill Traynor, have worked with multiple property management companies to design a “new, more human-centered approach and set of practices” in training employees to assume this important role. The two are also partnering with the National Initiative on Mixed Income Communities to apply their approach to the mixed-income housing sphere.
According to Blackburn, the best way to maximize the role of the property manager is to consider the position as important to the property as the development's design and financing.
We could be more connected, mutually supportive, and successful if we invested greater resources into the role of residential property managers, especially for the multitude of affordable housing complexes across the United States.
What property managers and their staff do, and the day-to-day decisions they make matter in terms of whether our communities work, or fall apart. We need to raise up this role to the level of importance it deserves and resource it as well as we have resourced the building of affordable housing.