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.

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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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Client Spotlight: Lorenzo Student Housing

This Package Concierge client spotlight takes us to the left coast. The Lorenzo, a new upscale student housing community located in Los Angeles, California occupies some prime real estate in the heart of the LA scene. The Lorenzo community offers USC students an upscale alternative to on-campus living while providing convenient access to venues such as LA Live and the Staples Center; it’s also the largest luxury student housing community in the U.S.Lorenzo 1

With so much to do in a city unlike any other, the amenities at The Lorenzo will add to your list. Free Wi-Fi across the community, four libraries and numerous study rooms meet the needs of every student. And when it’s time to socialize, check out the rooftop sundeck that features grilling and picnic stations or the karaoke room if you are in a singing mood. Need to blow off some steam or test your athletic abilities? Shoot some hoops on one of two Lakers and Clippers themed regulation sized courts or you can climb the two story rock climbing wall; its up to you. Need a pick me up? Enjoy free Starbucks coffee before you catch the complimentary shuttle to class and when you return, be ready to indulge in “Chick-Fil-A Days” or other fun events. There’s a 100-stadium seating movie theater and a social lounge too. But in Eddie’s opinion, the best amenity is the onsite Package Concierge system.

Lorenzo 6

Being that Eddie is the Package Manager at The Lorenzo, he knows what life was like before they installed the Package Concierge system. “We would spend all day logging in packages and sending our residents an email to come pick up their package.” And since use of the Package Concierge has begun Eddie says, “Now the carriers come directly to the system, deposit the packages, and the residents can come pick them up whenever they want, anytime of day, 24/7.”

lorenzo-student-housingtheater01It’s this level of satisfaction that Package Concierge aims to meet with all our clients and their residents. Eddie also mentioned to us, “I don’t see why all mail can’t be like this. It’s perfect, it works and it’s great.”

lorenzo 3

Package Concierge’s 456 lockers are conveniently located in the nearby community courtyard. We are proud to make easier the lives of more than three thousand students living at The Lorenzo!

The Lorenzo copy

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Best Student Housing Amenities

When deciding between schools, many students narrow down their choices based on the amenities across campus and more specifically, in student housing. As universities and colleges tend towards the more tech savvy crowd, the demand from students to stay current continues to grow. Many amenities are chosen by necessity such as televisions or mobile apps, but some are added to keep student housing convenient,  luxurious and enjoyable for the young residents.

Survey3w2

Architects and designers are keeping this in mind when constructing new buildings. A community with more to offer will likely draw millennial students toward that school over another. Wondering what are some of the latest and greatest amenities topping the charts? Here are a few:

Larger Apartments: Micro-units might be a hot trend in urban areas, but 27% of students report that the size of the apartment factors into their desire to live there or not.

Study Rooms: While college is a place for fun, it is also a place for learning and these academic focused rooms rank second overall in importance to students.

Cyber Cafes: While a location to work and get a snack or drink isn’t as important as a study room, students still desire these spaces in their apartments.

Theaters: The peak of luxury for some is having a small scale theater in their building or union to enjoy the latest feature films.

Bike Racks: Millennials have a growing environmentally conscious attitude and seek out ways to stay green– riding bikes to class being one option, and as such, they will need a place to store them.

Convenient Transportation: Whether the apartment is on campus or off, students enjoy having convenient modes of transport to get them to class and other area venues especially considering nearly half of students want to live within two miles of campus.

What will be the next big student housing amenity? We don’t have a crystal ball, but given students desire to go-paperless and their interest in self-service kiosk, we can only see a trend emerging. Couple these wishes along with the increased usage of online shopping and the small, untidy mail rooms or offices at these communities, we can venture to guess that it won’t be long before on and off-campus housing begins to eye a simpler way to handle packages.

Sources:

http://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/student-housing/common-areas-amenities-grow-in-student-housing-design-.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/us/in-luxury-student-housing-gym-tan-and-study.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/colleges-spending-amenities_n_2583593.html

http://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/research/survey-says-the-top-student-housing-common-areas-and-amenities.aspx

http:/www.multifamilyexecutive.com/technology/7-must-have-tech-amenities-for-gen-y-residents.aspx#articlecomments

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