Simplify your utility allowance calculations: A Closer Look At MSHDA

by ‐ Tags: case study, affordable housing

Your utility allowance report submission deadline is drawing near. You've requested the tenant utility data from your utility and, after weeks of waiting, are dismayed to see it now requires manual entry into a spreadsheet in order to do the calculations necessary to determine the new allowances. Then it all gets repeated for the next development's due date. And the next. Sound familiar?

MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority) is seeking to simplify this process for Michigan management agencies of affordable housing. Through a pilot program with New Ecology and WegoWise, MSHDA is exploring a different approach to utility data collection for the Actual Consumption Method of calculating utility allowances. The approach is much more hands off for the management agencies. Here's the skinny on what they're doing:

Who is participating? 

MSHDA announced the program to all who report to them, and ultimately selected 14 property managers with 60 developments for a total of 400 buildings to participate in the pilot program. Their goal was to include as many property managers as they could within the programs limits. MSHDA worked directly with the property managers to select the best developments for the pilot. Selecting developments within DTE and Consumers Energy territory was important as these two utility companies provide access to tenant data via a landlord portal. Landlord portals eliminate the need to either a) request tenant data directly from the utility or b) collect tenant release forms to register their accounts online with the utility and obtain data from online access. No more data entry!

How does it work? 

WegoWise works with agencies to set up the participating developments in WegoWise. This involves the agencies answering questions about their buildings (size, # of units, heating system, etc.) and setting up logins to the landlord portals through DTE and Consumers Energy. Once WegoWise has this information, the software pulls all of the tenant data into the system. New Ecology then uses the data in WegoWise to perform the required utility allowance calculations, providing a utility allowance report that conforms to MSHDA requirements.

The Benefits 

Aside from the time saved calculating your utility allowances and the countless headaches surrounding that process, pilot participants also receive a free year of WegoWise. Having access to tenant data provides them a complete understanding of the building's energy consumption, rather than only being able to monitor common area or whole building owner paid utilities. The tenant consumption will automatically pull in new data monthly, allowing them to continue using WegoWise and New Ecology next year after the pilot's completion.

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MSHDA also benefits from the process, as they can have more confidence in the quality of the data, saving them time typically spent on due diligence. The landlord portals also allow them to report a larger sample size, as in most cases, 100% of the tenant data is available via the portal.

Can we do this too? 

Are you an owner or manager of affordable housing that hates the thought of your upcoming utility allowance deadlines? If so, WegoWise can help simplify the process. Ideally, if your utility has a landlord portal (unfortunately, few do), WegoWise can likely access all of the tenant data in one place with little effort by the management agency to set-up a login to the portal.

If this isn't available, we can still work with you to set-up your tenants' utility accounts online and set them up to automatically import into WegoWise. Once the initial set-up is done, it's just a matter of updating any old utility accounts annually to account for tenant move-in. Learn more about how one of our customers, Schochet Companies, is using WegoWise to simplify utility allowances at their properties.