How to Select and Implement MTW Activities
Set Goals - What goals do you want to achieve?
Key Takeaway: All goals should stem from local needs.
- All goals should be developed in response to your community’s needs, not from a list of available waivers or activities that other agencies have done.
- MTW activities will flow from the goals your agency wants to achieve.
Select Activities - What MTW activities will help your agency achieve your goals?
Key Takeaway: Use the authority and flexibility you’ve been given to the fullest.
- Get creative! Brainstorm with residents, staff, and key stakeholders a long list of potential MTW activities your agency might undertake. Determine which ones align with your goals. Then determine whether those activities require relief from any regulation(s).
- Review activities other agencies have taken and available waivers to see if they support your agency’s goals.
- If you determine that additional waivers may be needed, keep in mind that MTW only allows waivers from Sections 8 and 9 of the 1937 Housing Act. HUD cannot waive other regulations.
- Don’t hesitate to request innovative waivers!
Analyze All Potential Impacts - What will the impacts (intended and unintended) of these changes be?
Key Takeaway: Get analytical! It is not wise to ‘go with your gut’ on what is going to work.
- Impact analysis is only required for some MTW activities, but it is best practice to work through an impact analysis for all MTW activities your agency plans to undertake.
- Consider impacts on the agency, its staff, program participants, and the community at large. Knowing the potential impacts will prepare you to “manage the change” when the activities are implemented.
- Prior to implementation, impact analyses help agencies proactively identify possible consequences – both intentional and unintentional.
- During implementation, impact analyses can demonstrate success or provide a warning that things are not working as intended.
Plan for Implementation - What planning do you need to do for smooth implementation?
Key Takeaway: Be strategic; a well-thought out, well-planned initiative is much more effective than a quick fix.
- Focus on implementing a few effective MTW activities at first and then build on them. This is usually more effective that trying to do too much at once.
- Be strategic about the order in which you select and implement MTW activities. It is easy to see an issue and want to react right away, but it’s important to dissect the issue and look to root causes first. Immediate selection without adequate thought may lead to ineffective activities.
- Plan for different MTW activities with both long- and short-term benefits. Some activities may offer the potential for quick wins – allowing for immediate implementation and outcomes. Other activities will take time to come to fruition but will yield significant long-term impacts. Both types require planning before implementation but can take place concurrently.
Get Buy-In - How will you get buy-in from residents and staff?
Key Takeaway: Change is hard. Be intentional about involving key players on the MTW journey.
- Consider your staff. Effective implementation requires staff input, engagement, and buy-in. Help staff understand the benefits of any changes. Address concerns about how the changes will affect staff roles. Value input from staff about how to make the changes work most effectively. Staff can provide valuable insight not only into the operational details of a new policy, process or program, but also to the households that they serve. Be sure to create a feedback loop in which staff can see how their input is being applied.
- Consider the Board. Each board is different, but in general, keeping the board abreast of MTW plans prior to submitting a plan is an important step. It can help board members ask the right kinds of hard questions, and ultimately reach consensus about the proposed plans.
- Consider residents and other stakeholders. They need confidence that the waiver will benefit residents and the community, and hardship policies will protect those who are vulnerable. Plan adequate time to consult with and address the concerns of the community.
Implement & Adjust as you go – How will you adjust when things aren’t working?
Key Takeaway: Even with a thoughtful plan and careful impact analysis, activities sometimes do not work as intended. Assess and adjust!
- Watch carefully to ensure that your results match the anticipated outcomes.
- When there is a mismatch, assess the situation, and take action.
- Action could be deciding to adjust, deciding to abort, or deciding to stay the course because the desired outcomes are expected to take more time.
When trying out new activities, be prepared to stop, analyze, rethink, and adjust. Nicole Beydler (Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino) and Karen DuBois-Walton (Housing Authority of the City of New Haven) explain.