Save My Spot gains acceptance among applicants
Non-English speakers also using the system effectively
SEATTLE—September 25, 2007—According to Dennis Hall, Admissions Manager of Seattle Housing Authority's Low Income Public Housing program, the automated waiting list check-in system the agency implemented in June is working “exceptionally well.”
Known as Save My Spot, the check-in system is designed to help move people into housing more quickly by reducing the amount of time required for maintaining, updating, and checking waiting lists. It requires people on public housing waiting lists to call in, or to check in on the website, once a month. The telephone check-in number is (206) 256-7000.
Early concerns about the the system focused on how well it would service people who are not fluent in English. In fact, the phone system provides instructions in nine languages besides English, and the website provides the information in an additional seven languages.
Hall reports that people whose first language is not English are, in fact, participating at a rate greater than that of native English speakers.” We are also monitoring the participation of elderly and disabled families, and we are pleased to report that applicants in those two groups are also checking in at a slightly higher rate than non-elderly and non-disabled applicants.
Information about Save My Spot was mailed in mid-May to every person on every Low Income Public Housing waiting list—over 8,600 people in all—along with a reminder cards and clear instructions on how to check in by telephone or on the Internet. A reminder letter and a 16-language instructions sheet were sent in mid-June to people who had not yet checked in. Since then, the overall rate of check-in is about 52 percent.
According to Hall, this is well within expectations, since it conforms to the historical response rate from the waiting list.
“During the often-lengthy period people must wait, they often find other housing, or they change their plans, or their income has risen to a level that makes them ineligible for subsidized housing,” he said. “The people who remain, those who do use Save My Spot to check in every month, are simply letting us know they are still interested.”
Applicants who don’t check in will ultimately be taken off the waiting list. However, during the calendar month in which they are removed, they will be reinstated upon request without penalty. After 30 days, applicants who have been canceled must re-apply.