One of the most challenging obstacles that the Affordable Housing Industry is facing today is the difficulty to attract, hire and retain talent into their businesses. With a low unemployment rate and such a specialized industry, as it deals with many federal and state regulations, the markets are very competitive for the talent available.
RealPage Senior Vice President Gustavo Sapiurka was recently invited to teach at the University of Georgia about the Affordable housing industry. Sapiurka, who has been in Affordable for more than 30 years, volunteered his time to educate the next generation about subsidized housing. He also shared the opportunities and fulfillment a career in Affordable housing can offer.
“People who come to work in Affordable housing stay forever because we’re passionate,” he said. “But we have a large amount of talent about to retire. We’re facing a major challenge that we don’t have enough qualified people who are ready to take over.”
Finding and retaining talent is a top priority
Sapiurka said that for RealPage Affordable customers, finding and retaining talent is a priority as the industry’s work population ages.
“A large portion of our customers say the number one operational challenge they are facing today is finding and retaining talent.”
Working in Affordable housing may not be as glamorous as renting penthouses in Central Park or the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco. But Sapiurka says the industry has a prime opportunity to attract talent from a new generation of workers who, by nature, want to contribute to the good of society and are very mission driven.
During the presentation, Sapiurka encouraged students to make a difference by pursuing an Affordable housing career. After the nearly two-hour class, he was asked to stay over and speak with students seeking employment about working in the industry.
“We talked about how much the industry needs people like them,” he said. “One student came to me and said he wanted to work for a non-profit. I smiled and told him, ‘Send me your resume, I know many great organizations looking for talent right now.’ It was a great experience.”
As Affordable gets more complex, the employee learning curve alters
In NAHMA’s “Leaders Talk Trends,” Seldin Co. President & CEO Alicia Stoermer Clark said talent and training are top of mind. A lack of workers for office and maintenance positions will be amplified as the industry expands to meet a shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available rental homes, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
She said the industry’s workforce has to change given the new intricacies of property management in office, compliance and maintenance job functions.
“The positions are demanding and require a great deal of training and development as the complexities of the affordable housing programs have expanded,” she said. “Between new regulatory guidance, layered financing and assistance, mixed-use locations and other programmatic shifts, the learning curve has grown for those just entering employment positions in property management.”
To combat the shortage, the industry must build internal training features within the organization and establish career paths to promote from within as often as possible, she said. Also, Affordable should develop training elements to welcome new employees to entry-level roles, while working to advance and promote existing employees with a strong retention strategy will be top priorities. With EasyLMS®, companies can include custom training for compliance and other key areas.
Investing in the next generation of Affordable housing leaders
The University of Georgia, Virginia Tech and Ball State are the only universities in the U.S. that have comprehensive programs on housing management. Sapiurka said he’s willing to offer those programs insight into the past, present and future of Affordable housing.
“I think this is the beginning,” he said. “I think we can do much more. We need to find new blood, introduce them to our industry and of course hire and retain them.”