How should Service Coordinators design approaches to resident outreach and recruitment?
Effective outreach ensures that Service Coordinators reach as many individuals as possible in the developments the ROSS Service Coordinator is serving. Service Coordinators should conduct a holistic outreach approach that integrates marketing strategies, proactive individual engagement, and community partners.
Effective marketing materials provide visually appealing notifications to potential program participants about the opportunities offered through ROSS. They include:
- Flyers, door hangers, or posters hung in communal spaces within public housing developments;
- Marketing materials placed with partner agencies and service providers that potential program participants visit (e.g., daycare services or food assistance organizations); and
- Brochures and other marketing materials, such as a monthly or quarterly newsletter, can be included with rent statements, new resident information packets, and at the time of income reexamination.
Webinar: Resident engagement strategies
This webinar comprises presentations from ROSS Service Coordinators in Des Moines, IA, Maricopa County, AZ, and Denver, CO. The webinar focuses on effective strategies for initial resident engagement and ongoing involvement. Speakers discuss ways to identify and address engagement challenges for specific populations, as well as how to apply these strategies in the ROSS Service Coordinator context.
In addition to traditional outreach, Service Coordinators should consider electronic marketing to capture the attention of potential program participants. Channels include:
- The PHA’s website;
- Social media channels like the PHA’s blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed; and
- Applications like Remind that can send automated messages about the program to residents via text message, although care should be taken so residents don’t incur charges for messages received. (NOTE: Originally developed as a tool for teachers, Remind is free for Service Coordinators and others to use on an individual basis. Plans that provide additional features, intended for large and small organizations like school districts and schools, are also available for purchase.)
Proactive individual engagement
Rather than waiting for residents to approach with questions about the ROSS program, Service Coordinators should proactively reach out to individual residents on a regular basis. This proactive individual engagement approach enables Service Coordinators to build personal relationships with residents and will allow Service Coordinators to identify residents who could benefit from the ROSS program. This strategy also helps ensure that residents know how to engage with the ROSS program.
Service Coordinators should engage with new residents within the first couple of weeks of their arrival. After this initial introduction, Service Coordinators should follow up with written materials and by scheduling a phone or in-person meeting to explain the ROSS program in greater detail. These contacts are an opportunity to gather information about new residents that can guide the Service Coordinator in identifying new services they may need to identify for residents. Other best practices:
- Service Coordinators should ensure that new residents are informed about the program. They can do this very effectively by providing PHA intake staff with information about the ROSS program that residents can take home with them (e.g. a flyer, business card or a website reference).
- Creating a resident-driven ROSS Ambassador program. Service Coordinators can train residents to conduct community outreach. Information and encouragement provided by peers can be a very effective recruitment tool.
Resident leaders are extremely effective allies in helping to introduce new residents to the ROSS program. Service Coordinators should ensure resident leaders have information and other support to educate and recruit fellow residents into the ROSS program. Service Coordinators should also consider hosting brainstorm sessions with resident leaders to develop additional approaches to engage residents. If resident associations have a social media presence, the Service Coordinator should consider asking to post program information.
In the absence of a formal ambassador program, the Service Coordinator can refer new clients to current or former ROSS participants who have benefited from the program.
Partnering with local service organizations can be a useful way to identify and reach potential program participants. Service Coordinators can begin by asking existing partners to provide information about the ROSS program to eligible clients. When working with interested partners, Service Coordinators should consult them about the most effective ways they have conducted outreach to their clientele. Questions they could pose to the partners could include:
- What is the most effective mechanism to reach the provider’s clients and potential ROSS program participants? Examples may include:
- ROSS flyers or brochures that the provider could distribute; and
- Guest posts by the Service Coordinator on the partner’s social media accounts.
- Can community partners incorporate ROSS screening criteria into any existing intake procedures to ensure their clients are simultaneously assessed for ROSS eligibility? For residents determined to be eligible, what resources should partners give them to facilitate participation?
Individual engagement resources
See the section on Proactive Engagement and Outreach in HUD’s Service Coordinator in Multifamily Housing Program Resource Guide for additional guidance (starting on page 5).
For general tips on outreach to potential clients, see the Community Tool Box section on Making Personal Contact with Potential Participants.
View a sample card for potential program participants to indicate interest in the program.
- And, can the partner provide follow-up to ensure that the residents have begun participating in the ROSS program?
- Do partners have an existing media platform or strategy that may support outreach to potential program participants?
- Do community partners meet regularly to discuss potential clients? Are there existing community coordination meetings Service Coordinators can join?
As the list of providers who partner with the ROSS program grows, Service Coordinators can make similar requests of their new partners to provide outreach to potential ROSS clients.
For guidance on building partnerships with leaders in the community, see the Community Tool Box section on Identifying and Analyzing Stakeholders and Their Interests.