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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Top 10 Hidden Holidays You Need To Prepare For

We all know about how the winter holidays always lead to a profound uptick in the number of packages your residents are receiving. But as ecommerce continues to rise exponentially, there are so many other times throughout the year when package delivery may surge at your properties. Check out our list of “Top 10 Hidden Holidays” you need to be prepared for:

You can find anything you need on the world wide web for the hidden holidays.

  1. Super Bowl Sunday. Once your team is out, you frantically buy gear for your de facto team of choice (let’s just say my son now owns a Falcons sweatshirt). Besides, how else are you going to get all football themes napkins, bowls, plates, etc. the Super Bowl Party?!
  1. 100th Day of School. Yes, this is a thing and not something we made up. It’s mostly celebrated by younger students sometime in February, as schools have fun with the number 100. Many Pinterest-loving mothers are known to order craft items at this time, which can lead to a sneaky increase of packages in some circles.
  1. Valentine’s Day. That oversized Vermont Teddy Bear isn’t going to drive itself to your significant other’s home. And neither is that sparkling necklace or whatever else you’ve ordered to make sure you’re not the goat on the international day of love.
  1. Memorial Day. Everyone wants to get away for Memorial Day. But it’s even better to leave town with that new tent, new fishing supplies, new tarps and other camping accessories. Late May always leads to a package boom.
  1. Independence Day. Yes, it’s illegal to ship fireworks by mail, so we’re not even going to go that route. But it’s also the heart of barbecue season and summer house parties, which leads to an uptick in online ordering of wide-ranging supplies.
  1. Amazon Prime Day. The monster online retailer held its first holiday exclusively for its own “Prime” members in July 2015, predictably resulting in an online ordering frenzy. 2016’s Prime Day, which Amazon touted as “one-day-only global shopping event,” was even bigger. The retail giant has vowed to bring back Prime Day this year although an official date has not been announced. So what can we expect from this year’s Prime Day?! If it’s anything like last year when we saw more than a 30% increase in packages two days after Amazon Prime Day, it will be one of the biggest package delivery days EVER!
  1. Back to School. Mid- to late-August means back-to-school time. This can create a sizable package rush, particularly for student housing communities. College students are continuing to seek alternative methods to purchase textbooks, such as sites like Chegg and eCampus, rather than buying them for full price on campus.
  1. Labor Day. While Memorial Day unofficially signifies the beginning of summer, Labor Day serves as its end-of-summer counterpart. That means one last chance to escape the grind. It also means heavy discounts on outdoor merchandise as retailers look to make a push before camping season ends.
  1. Pre-Halloween. While it’s a given that packages will arrive in droves during the Christmas season, this holiday can creep up on you. Some even call it a pseudo-holiday because no one ever gets the day off for Halloween, but expect a full package room as people continually opt to purchase their costumes online.
  1. Home Events. As families convene, host homes don’t want to disappoint. While orders of kitchen and culinary supplies increase, families also commonly spruce up their homes to make a favorable impression on their visitors.

Visit our website here to help you manage these holidays to come.

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Amazon’s Forthcoming Addition of 100,000 Employees Underscores Package Boom

Warehouse worker taking package in the shelf in a large warehouse in a large warehouse

Warehouse workers search for their packages in an unorganized package room.

It is no secret that the trend is there. Package delivery is increasing on a daily basis, as millennials prefer the convenience of shopping from their phone.

Even older generations are beginning to resist shopping in stores, opting for the alternative of making a few clicks and waiting a few days for the package to arrive at their doorsteps. That’s why, despite strong industry-wide sales, prominent retailers such as Macy’s and Sears are closing many of their brick-and-mortar stores.

This trend is not a momentary blip. In fact, a recent proclamation by tech giant Amazon indicates package delivery will continue to steamroll in this direction for the foreseeable future. Amazon, widely known as the king of package delivery, has indicated that it will create 100,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2018, according to a recent article by USA Today.

Apartment operators should prepare accordingly, as this is not a knee-jerk move by Amazon. First Data reports that ecommerce’s share of retail sales in the holiday season was 21.3 percent, a hefty increase from the 15.4 percent of 2015. Expect the numbers to rise again in 2017, as the Internet now represents six percent of the total U.S. economy. And it’s not only going to grow during the holiday season. Package delivery is steadily increasing year around, with significant upticks around back to school, Halloween and even Mother’s Day.

If your apartment communities have not yet adopted a solution to combat the influx of packages – such as a smart room, package lockers or a package management team – now is the time. While many apartment owners/operators were ahead of the curve and enjoyed a much smoother 2016 holiday season, still a large number of the industry saw overflowing packages, leaving overburdened members of the leasing team with the cumbersome task of sorting through them.

In September, Amazon announced intentions to deliver its own packages, eschewing traditional delivery services UPS, FedEx and USPS by building its own delivery service. Now comes news of Amazon’s hefty six-figure addition of employees, with many of the positions slated for four soon-to-come fulfillment centers.

The additions of fulfillment centers in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas have clear objective in mind: Get packages out more quickly. Amazon went from 56,200 employees in 2011 to 306,800 last year. Now 100,000 more are on the way to keep up with the country’s propensity to shop online.

The packages are coming at a historic rate and, as indicated by the actions of one of the nation’s premier tech giants, the breakneck pace will continue. Make sure you’re proactive rather than reactive, or you might end up beneath the pile.

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Budget for Amenities!

budget

A Budget Including Amenities Can Help You See and Save Green!

It’s that time of the year again: the preparation of next year’s budget for your community. Your budget is likely to cover a lot of different areas; from marketing and sales to staffing and screening. While these are necessary for the property to keep functioning, make sure to make room for amenities. Amenities can increase occupancy and drive increased revenues. It can also be used in your marketing efforts to generate leads. When budgeting for amenities, there are a few things you need to consider. If you follow these three steps, you’ll be good as gold!

Survey

The best amenity is a wanted amenity. A good way to gauge interest in a potential amenity before purchasing is to survey your community. What do they want? What amenity adds convenience for them? What’s going to make them want to renew their lease? You may think your community desperately needs a guinea pig playroom, but you better check first. An amenity collecting dust is a waste of money and isn’t generating ANY revenue.

ROI

Stemming off of the first point, when you figure out what amenity or amenities your community wants, it’s important to consider the ROI. You don’t want to commit to an amenity with a short lifecycle. You’re looking for an investment with long-term results. This can be challenging, especially when trends can come and go. Doing your due diligence through research will be vital to making sure your addition isn’t a dud. Find industry resources that can provide the data you’re looking for. Numbers don’t lie and they can be a great guide for keeping up with trends in multifamily!

Scout

Ok. You’ve listened to the community and you’re devastated about their lack of concern for the guinea pig playroom. You’ve also taken their suggestions and done some research on your own. Still hesitant about pulling the trigger on a certain amenity? Find a community that has what you’re looking for and go see it! For example, if you’ve been researching package lockers, find a community with a system. When you get there, ask to see the system, but also ask their opinion. Have the lockers made residents happier? Have they seen an ROI yet or expecting to? How do they work? Don’t hesitate to ask questions from an unbiased party before going into a sales process.

No one likes to budget. It’s time-consuming and can be difficult to stick to if problems should arise. But a proper budget can drive additional and recurring revenue if there’s room for an amenity. Then it’s just a matter of researching and selecting the amenity that will have the highest impact on ROI. Finally, go see it in action somewhere! An amenity can be just what your community needs to grow and thrive. Choose wisely and budget appropriately!

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Summer Move-In Success

Move

Warm Up To New Residents On Move-In Day

As we all know, summer is upon us. The season filled with barbeques, vacations and shorts is also known for something else: moving. According to moving and storage company U-Haul: “17 to 20 million people may move this summer” and “Nearly 45 percent of all moves occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day.” That’s a lot of people relocating during the warmest time of the year. Reasons vary on why many commit to a summertime move and many of them may be moving into your community. If this is the case, many in multifamily have an opportunity to make a good first impression. Just because a resident signed the lease doesn’t mean they feel comfortable and welcome in the community yet. We have a few ideas on how to break through this barrier to make a lasting impression.

  • Prepare the Property – If you’re about to see an influx of new residents, have the property ready. Will moving trucks be able to easily navigate once on site? Are there any obstructions in the hallways, breezeways or stairwells? Don’t forget that residents may have only seen the property a handful of times before moving in, so they may get confused. Is there any way to help this? These small fixes will make moving in a smoother experience for everyone. Even just being there to assure and answer questions will stand out to new residents.
  • Have Water Ready – Summer is hot. Moving heavy objects in the summer is even hotter. A great way to maintain the rapport you’ve established is to provide cold bottled water on move-in days. Think about it: new residents already feel the stresses of moving and this simple necessity may be overlooked. Your generosity can reinforce their decision to why they wanted to join the community in the first place. As we’ve always said, “A happy resident is a loyal resident.” There’s no reason why this can’t start over some H2O.
  • Summer Swag Bags – Before a resident begins to unload their belongings into their new home, they need to go inside it first. An awesome way to welcome them is to have a summer themed swag bag on the counter waiting for them. From some simple sunglasses to sunscreen, anything that can help the summer moving process is a good start. Not everything has to be summer oriented; throwing in a few essentials that can get overlooked work just as well. Coupons to local establishments are also a great incentive for residents. They can save money while exploring their new surroundings. The only restrictions on swag bags are budgets and imagination, but a little goes a long way! Check out sites like Pinterest for ideas.

Summer is a wonderful time of the year. But moving during it can potentially wear out a future resident. By taking the initiative to make the process slightly easier, you’ll be a hero! And there’s nothing wrong with sharing the move in excitement with social media either. Don’t get burned by summer moves; turn them into the best experience possible.

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