Employee Voices: NGO – A New Model for Managing NYCHA Developments
by Barbara Turkewitz, Director of NGO Policy & Program Development and Senior Advisor

NextGen Operations

NextGen Operations (NGO) is a new model for managing NYCHA’s developments. Launched in January 2015 at 18 developments as the Optimal Property Management Operating Model (OPMOM), the program aimed to empower property managers to truly manage their developments.

Senior Vice President (SVP) Janet Abrahams joined NYCHA in September 2015 to run this program, bringing with her a wealth of experience managing public housing in Chicago and Newark. Under her direction, OPMOM was restructured and renamed NextGen Operations (NGO). In July 2016 NGO was expanded to include the Queens/ Staten Island and Mixed-Finance departments.

Starting in 2017, the rollout of the NGO model to the remaining developments, which will continue reporting to SVP for Operations Brian Clarke, began with Manhattan South. The rollout is expected to be completed by January 2019.

NGO has provided a vision and metrics for a new management model, using a bottom-up approach built on team building at the developments to deliver smarter decisions and better results. NGO decentralizes operations to empower property management with more decision-making responsibility, allowing them to provide better service to the residents. NGO property managers:

  • Set their own goals for areas such as rent collection or cleanliness of apartments, and create action plans to meet them;
  • Set criteria to evaluate their job performance, in accordance with their action plans;
  • Exert more control over their supply and vendor budget; and
  • Have greater spending autonomy.

NGO Training Program
NGO established a training program to equip staff with additional skills. Since July 2016, more than 2,300 employees have participated in training related to the responsibilities of their positions. Supervisors had to take supervisory training; directors, regional asset managers (RAM), property managers and superintendents increased their knowledge of HUD rules; RAMs, property managers, superintendents and assistant property managers also received financial training from NYCHA’s Budget Department on creating and maintaining budgets. Every NGO employee was required to take customer service training.

Customer service training enhanced interactions with people of all kinds, including colleagues. For teams to work effectively together, communications between staff had to improve. This training also facilitated better meetings with resident leaders and residents. We believe residents must be heard in order for the development staff to prioritize work well.

It will take time to really show improvement, but we are already seeing positive change. The response time for a maintenance work order at an NGO property is four days, compared to six days for a non-NGO property. NGO properties also performed better in 2016 than the NYCHA average for 10 of 14 other indicators.

Given NYCHA’s budget outlook, we face difficult times ahead. NGO employees who understand their properties can best prioritize work and determine how to use their limited resources, providing better customer service and quality of life for residents.

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