The application period for this challenge is now closed

  • Governer Partner :City of Boulder
  • Department :Division of Housing
  • Category :CRM / application management, Data Collection / Security, Digitization, Process Improvement

Project Summary

Easy-to-use digital portal for applicants to affordable homeownership program

Challenge Details

Improve the City of Boulder Division of Housing’s ability to receive, review, verify, approve, and store resident applications for permanently affordable Homeownership Programs within the City.

The Division of Housing, Homeownership Program, is responsible for receiving, reviewing, verifying, approving, and storing all applications for permanently affordable Homeownership Programs within the city of Boulder.

The Homeownership Program application process is lengthy (oftentimes several weeks, at least) and requires significant documentation to verify income, assets, and other program requirements for those who wish to purchase a permanently affordable home. Currently, there is a manual paper application, resulting in packets ranging from 50 to 300 pages. Applicants also need to provide upwards of 50 supplementary documents with their application. With the lengthy documentation required for the application submission, the Program needs to streamline the application process.

Pain points include:

• Manual process that is time consuming for applicants to prepare and staff to review applications

• Significant paper waste necessitated by paper instead of online submissions

• Limited ability to quickly address applicant questions about the application or process, or address their unique needs

• Incomplete application submissions require time consuming back-and-forth between applicants and staff

• After submission, applicants do not have an easy way to check the status of their application

The Housing Division has worked with the city’s Innovation and Technology Department to attempt to address these pain points using a publicly accessible, Formstack-based structure. However, there are key limitations to this approach, including:

• Limited ability to toggle back and forth between application sections, especially uploading documents, saving, and then returning to them. This is made more complex by encrypted files.

• Inability to secure and therefore process Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments through Formstack

• Limited options for interface appearance and dynamic, interactive features

• Inability to redress lost login credentials, requiring applicants to start over

We are looking for an online, publicly accessible but properly secured, application submission solution that will help make both applicant and reviewer roles in the application process more user-friendly and ultimately helping achieve the primary outcome – quickly approving suitable applicants for the affordable Homeownership Program. Key requirements of such a solution include:

• Save and Return Later:

– Ability for applicant to save inputted information and attached documentation, and come back later to resume submission

– Ability for City staff to make alterations/changes to the application when needed

– Ability for applicant’s basic information to be stored long term so that they do not have to re-input fields during recertification every 6 months

• Application Logic: User-friendly, informative, and smart/dynamic interface that requires certain fields and upload boxes depending on previous answers

Security:

• Security of sensitive personal identifying information (PII) data such as social security numbers and bank account information

• Data Transfer and Integration:

– Ability for data to be automatically transferred to our Access database (Housing Access Link, [HAL])

– Ability for data to be transferred into fillable PDF formats for sharing with our sister agencies (This Communities, Boulder County Down Payment Assistance Program, and City of Longmont      Homeownership Program) who we share a common application with to streamline the end user’s access to similar programs

• Payment Engine: Ability to include credit card and ACH payment method at end of application before submittal allowed

• Information Publishing: Ability for City staff to arrange the organization of the document submittals, (i.e. all combined into one PDF with bookmarks for different sections)

• Status Alerting: Ability for applicants to receive status updates or actively check status of application after submission