Tiny House. Big Impact.

Tiny housing making big impact on combating homelessness in America

Affordable housing and providing access to quality housing is a vital social responsibility for the multifamily industry and something that is near and dear to the heart of Package Concierge, especially founder and CEO Georgianna W. Oliver. As such, we wanted to share with you this blog from Andy Helmer, CEO of Shelters to Shutters, a national non-profit working to help combat homelessness, on how our industry can make a difference.

The fight to end homelessness in this country is a massive undertaking. About 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Alleviating this problem in a meaningful way will surely require a multi-faceted effort involving federal, state and local governments, non-profits and the private sector.

Tiny homes have become a solution to homelessness. Here’s one possible component of the solution to this giant issue: tiny homes. Across the U.S., organizations are using tiny houses and apartment homes, which typically range from 100 square feet to 500 square feet, to provide shelter for the homeless.

For instance, the nonprofit American Family Housing recently opened Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit community in Midway City, Calif., to house homeless vets. The property features 480-square-foot apartment homes made from energy-efficient shipping containers.

Across the country, in Newfield, N.Y., the nonprofit Second Wind Cottages, relying heavily on donated materials and volunteer labor, built a community of 12 tiny homes that house homeless men. Residents pay rent as they are able to help defray the community’s operating expenses.

Other examples of similar communities include the Tiny House Village in Seattle and the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.

Advocates of these developments note that they are comparatively cheap to build, and constructions costs often are further mitigated through the use of materials and labor supplied for free by area businesses and residents.

Can the multifamily industry incorporate tiny apartment homes for the homeless into their communities? It’s certainly something to think about. With its ample resources and vast supply of creative and intelligent people, the multifamily industry should not be shy about stepping up to the plate to help address this critical issue, and tiny apartment homes might be one way to do that.

Another Piece to the Puzzle

Shelters to Shutters (S2S), a Fairfax, Va.-based nonprofit, offers another way for the apartment industry to reduce homelessness. S2S currently works with 23 apartment management companies – including such large operators as

How tiny would your tiny home be?

AvalonBay Communities and Equity Residential – to place people experiencing homelessness in onsite, entry-level jobs and provide them with housing at the same communities at which they work.

Overall, these apartment companies have moved more than 100 people out of homelessness in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Texas. And they’ve gained hardworking, loyal associates in the process. The job retention rate for S2S participants is 92 percent while the average industry turnover rate, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, is 31 percent.

S2S provides its apartment management partners with pre-screened, job-trained candidates for entry-level positions such as maintenance technicians and leasing agents. The organization focuses on the 70 percent of the homeless population who are situationally homeless due to a life-altering event such as job loss, medical or health emergency, divorce, domestic abuse or the loss of a primary income earner.

Whether it’s through tiny homes, working with nonprofits like S2S or some other method, the multifamily industry can make a real difference in the fight against homelessness. I strongly urge you to consider how you and your apartment company can do just that.

Want to learn more about us? Click here to find out – Package Concierge

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Hardwire Internet has important edge over Wi-Fi for Apartments

The world is linked by wireless Internet, but even Wi-Fi can experience some connection tangles from time to time.

While, Wi-Fi is a more popular, widely used method of Internet connection these days, don’t be so quick to bail on the good ol’ Ethernet cord – at least for the backend of your apartment community. Wi-Fi is more convenient and tops the resident demand list, but a trusty hardwire connection is immensely more secure and challenging to hack.

Convenience is a great sell, and your property probably won’t meet its occupancy goals without wireless access for daily use in your resident’s apartment homes. You have to have it. Although, when it comes to operations, nothing beats top-notch security, especially digital security, which some residents don’t realize they actually need.

The Package Concierge Premier system is eye catching at Blair Tower.As more apartment communities begin to rely on Internet connection for day-to-day operational functions, like rent payment portal sites and electronic package locker systems, property managers should consider some of the pitfalls of a wireless connection before rolling up the Ethernet cables for good:

Wi-Fi signals commonly drop with interference

Wireless doesn’t have as stable an Internet connection as a hardwire because it only works within a certain range, and is more susceptible to interference and objects blocking the signal. Any wireless user can vouch a Wi-Fi signal can get pretty feisty.

In an apartment community, if the wireless were to go out, it could disable an entire system that operates via Internet. If Wi-Fi loses a signal during a streamed video or game, it’s an annoyance. If the signal goes out at an apartment community running package lockers or a security gate system, it potentially puts residents’ safety and possessions at risk.

Wireless offers easier setup, less return on investment

A downfall of hardwired Internet is the setup and connection takes a bit more time and work to configure than Wi-Fi. However, hardwire is a vastly more consistent, and even faster, connection once it’s up and running. Property managers will get back what they put into setting up a more secure connection system for residents.

The return on investment from a hardwire connection is worth the initial time. Residents are more likely to use something that works efficiently, without many issues. Wi-Fi is quicker and easier, but will likely have more problems down the road, draining management’s time and energy and taking associates away from other important community tasks.

Not as much data protection

Since hardwired Internet is more difficult to hack, it is also better equipped to guard data than a password-protected, private Wi-Fi connection. When overseeing many different residents in an apartment community, data protection is crucial not only for the management’s sensitive and private information, but also for the protection of residents’ personal information and privacy.

Wireless encryption standards are always being changed because the connection is just not safe. With a hardwire everything is contained.

Of course, we are not suggesting to move to hardwire.

Smartphones have drastically changed the way we must think about cyber security and wi-fi capabilities.

Cell phones use wireless connection, so different resident and community apps are exclusively Wi-Fi driven. However, keep in mind, some community amenities that utilize Internet can benefit from connection via hardwire, like [Package Concierge’s] electronic package locker systems.

Wi-Fi is definitely convenient and a must-have amenity that residents demand in their homes. However, for an apartment community on an operational level, it’s not necessarily offering residents the security and reliability they need, which hardwire provides.

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Delivery Madness: Are you ready for Prime time?

MThere are so many items to purchase on Amazon Prime day!any who deal with package management on a daily basis breathed a hefty sigh of relief in January. The holiday season had passed, which presumably meant it’d be another 12 months before another rush of that magnitude.

Well, hold on a minute. We know there are a few hidden holidays that impact the number of packages delivered but what about “self-created” holidays?

Prime Day is Prime Time

One wouldn’t think a self-created holiday would create such mayhem. Well, unless that holiday is all about packages. Introducing the third annual Amazon Prime Day, which absolutely fits that billing.

Delivery carriers and managers are advised to gear up for this one, which begins at 9 p.m. ET on July 10. Amazon hypes the event as a “one-day only global shopping event for Prime members.” It’s essentially an online version of Black Friday, and you better believe it makes an impact.

The e-Commerce giant launched its second ever Amazon Prime Day on July 12, 2016, and it resulted in the biggest sales day ever for the online retail giant, according to CNBC.

Amazon declined to disclose how many people signed up for Prime to participate in the sale, but U.S. orders rose by more than 50 percent compared to the first Prime Day a year earlier.

Package Concierge is the best way to organize all of your packages coming in from Amazon Prime day.Now that Prime Day is fairly established, it’s a reasonable expectation that the numbers will continue to rise. Last year, Package Concierge’s lockers experienced a 30-percent increase of package deliveries two days after Prime Day. Here’s hypothesizing that the increase will be even sharper this year. With Business Insider predicting Amazon could rake in $1 billion in 30 hours, we’re guessing our lockers will experience a 40- to 45-percent spike this time.

More Prime Opportunities than Ever

As Prime Day increases in popularity, other businesses are teaming up with the retail giant. Jet Blue, for instance, is offering 3,000 TrueBlue points (the airline’s equivalent to mileage points) for those who sign up for a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime ahead of Prime Day.

As July 10 approaches, several publications have created their own spin about the day. Tom’s Guide, for instance, put together a checklist of items to buy and avoid on Prime Day.  The guide claims it’s an excellent time to purchase Amazon devices at a discounted rate, including Kindle, Echo and Fire Tablets. But you might have a harder time finding discounts for Apple devices, laptops and HDTVs.

The Wirecutter published an article outlining what to expect and how to find the best deals. PCMag, meanwhile, composed a story outlining what you need to know for the holiday.

Translation: Amazon Prime Day has become a big deal. It can rival the holiday season with regard to volume of packages, and we can’t wait to see the numbers for 2017.

With that in mind, here’s a list of five items we believe will be hot on Prime Day:

  1. Alexa-Enabled Portable Bluetooth Speakers: Just tap it and ask for music from Spotify, Pandora and other music services.
  2. Huawel Mate9 Smartphone: These tech-savvy devices typically retail for about $600.
  3. Everyday Essentials: Stock up on Prime Day or take advantage of Prime subscription services on all your everyday living needs.
  4. Sneakers: Prime Day isn’t solely about tech products. Shoe brands such as Adidas and New Balance are known to dish out the discounts as well.
  5. MacBook Pro: Even though Tom warned us there might not be many discounts on Apple products, according to Techradar, you might be able to save $100-$200 on one of these laptops.

And here’s another Prime Day Bonus for you: all of these items will fit in your Package Concierge® locker! Happy Shopping!

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All Encompassing: Package Concierge Offers Package Shipping and Returns

One in three.

That’s right: 30 percent of every online purchase is returned.

Did you know around 49% of retailers offer free return shipping now? Package concierge is here to help.

According to invespcro.com, 30% of all products ordered online are returned as compared to 8.89% in brick-and-mortar stores.

We already know that ecommerce is bigger than ever with people spending more than a $200 billion annually – a steadily rising number. It is estimated that online shopping has grown more than 17 percent over the last decade. And as more and more brick-and-mortar stores close their doors ecommerce is projected to further skyrocket.

While online shopping offers a greater convenience with the ability to shop 24/7 and from various devices, it still lacks the sensory appeal that comes with shopping at a brick-and-mortar retailer. As such, 60 percent of returned packages are due to either damaged goods, the product looks different than what was online or it was simply the wrong item.

A report released by Sanford C. Bernstein indicates that Amazon ships an average of 608 million packages each year, or 1.66 million daily. According to UPS, they deliver approximately 18 million packages daily during typical non-peak shipping periods while FedEx boasts 13 millions daily packages.

So what does this mean?

While these figures don’t take into account the massive upswing in package deliveries during the holiday season (think double the volume), we are looking at roughly 9 million packages returned every single day.

Package Concierge is further improving your package management solutions, and ensuring your leasing office and leasing team no longer have to deal with mountains of packages.

Shipping and Returns is now available from Package Concierge and operates through its package locker system. Similar to package pickup, residents have access to shipping and returns capabilities 24/7.

With Shipping and Returns available from Package Concierge, apartment owners and operators:

  • Provide even greater convenience for your residents by allowing them to returns items they are unhappy with, as well as ship packages to their friends and family.
    • Satisfied residents are more likely to renew their leases – more than 80 percent indicate that effective package management positively impacted their renewal decision.
  • Offer efficiencies to burdened delivery carriers
    • By taking advantage of their regular stops, carriers no longer have to make extra trips to pick up outbound shipments or returns.
  • Generate ancillary revenue
    • Whether or not you chose to charge residents for this service, you garner improved ROI through enhanced resident satisfaction.

Contact us today to learn more about how Shipping and Returns can further improve your package management!

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Leap for Free Rent Day!

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What are you going to do with this extra day of the year? We have arrived at another intercalary year; better known as leap year. But when you think about it, this year renters receive an extra day in their properties for FREE! That’s right! So whom do we need to thank for this extra day of multifamily living? That answer goes back farther than you may realize.

Around 46 B.C., Julius Caesar decided that every four years we get an extra day added to the year to balance out the 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds that accompanies the 365 days it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Now, Mr. Caesar didn’t quite get leap year right the first time. That’s why over 1,500 years later Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar to better regulate the bonus time of a year. His calendar added centuries to the equation, thus making years that are divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.

The benefit of that extra day in February every four years is a “rent free day.” Most leases are based on 365 days in a year, which means renters score an extra day in their homes for free! This is definitely a reason for celebration and the last time we welcomed an extra day in the year, Package Concierge was just gearing up as a company.

In the leap year of 2012 Package Concierge was founded. And after only a few years we are in 26 states providing our services to multifamily and student housing properties. In 2015, we received the Customer Experience Innovation Award, a crowning achievement for a company less than 5 years old. Package Concierge believes in making the most of the time we have, and that’s why we are committed to providing our customers with the latest technological advancements in package management.

Package Concierge is serious about security and convenience all year long, whether its 365 days or 366. So, what are you going to do with your “rent free” day this year? Maybe, host a “rent free day” party? Whatever you do, make sure you and your friends thank Julius Caesar for the extra time we have in 2016!

 

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Affordable Apartment Cities

In a tight economy, everyone is looking to pinch pennies where they can, but more often than not, the place you live isn’t something you can compromise. Did you know that 35% (NMHC) of the US population rents? That’s a big number! And a lot of those renters are living in apartments. So why not make the most of your renting experience and enjoy affordable and comfortable living quarters?

Over the past few years, extensive studies have been conducted on what makes a city affordable. The jobs, the people, the businesses, etc. They’ve even taken into account the housing available in these cities and what the average person pays for rent. And from all that information, Package Concierge has compiled some of the best lists about affordable cities for renting:

Huffington Postcityscape

Zillow

MSN

Time

Kiplinger

 CBS

Although the lists do vary, the unchanging variable is the cost of living. Some cities median wage is higher than others and being able to live comfortably in that city is easily attainable for its citizens. The majority of cities on this list have the luxury of providing their people with a job, a home and a pleasant life, all thanks to a lower cost of living. Regardless, a city near you should definitely be on these lists. If you have the opportunity to move so your home is nicer, your wallet is fuller and you’re happier, take it!

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Tips for First Time Renters

leaseAre you looking to rent an apartment for the first time and feeling overwhelmed? Here’s a great list of tips we’ve compiled to help you through the process:

1.       Do Your Homework

Before calling a landlord or going to a showing, be sure you have researched the location and its amenities as well as the surrounding area. Conduct your investigation thoroughly. If you require transportation, a parking space or a pet friendly location, inquire about these specifics before moving forward.

2.       Talk to the neighbors

If possible, before you speak with the landlord, ask around the premise to see how other tenants feel about the apartment complex. The best resource you’ll find in apartment searching is current residents: they’ll have all the ups and downs you need to know.

3.       Act Confident

Once you do make contact with the landlord or the community, speak with confidence. Write yourself a list of notes as a reference and stand up for yourself, but don’t be pushy either. This also applies for when you go see the apartment.

4.       Ask questions

You are your greatest advocate, so ask questions if you have them. Often first time renters are too shy to question management or potential neighbors, but if you don’t ask, no one else will.

5.       Don’t go over budget

Even though you may love the park side apartment with three bedrooms, if its out of your price range, you must resist. Whatever you do, don’t go over budget. Your stress and anxiety will increase if you have to scrape for every dollar just to live on your own.

6.       Actually read the lease

Once you’ve chosen an ideal location and you are handed the leasing contract, actually read it. Don’t skim it. Don’t show it to your dog. Read the contract and be sure you understand everything contained within it.

7.       Take Inventory

When the time comes that you move in, the first thing you should do is document every scratch, loose floor board and dented appliance on paper and in pictures so whenever you move out, you aren’t held accountable for previous damages.

Photo credit to movinginsider.com

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