Communication Strategy and Operations

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About the Engagement 

At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, a state-level agency received the task to distribute funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), acting as a grantee in the nationwide initiative that amassed approximately $46.5 billion. The program aimed to deliver substantial economic relief to assist households with low and moderate income who were at risk of homelessness or housing instability by offering support with rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears. In addition, the agency created the Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP), which provides rental assistance for landlords whose tenants are unwilling to apply for the ERAP, including where the tenant has left the rental property. 

Business Problem 

The agency had to develop internal policies and procedures to erect a grant management and administration operation within weeks. One of the business problems is that the agency required a comprehensive communication strategy and implementation plan to ensure efficient operations, to support timely grant relief disbursement.  


Due to the nature of the grant program to expend relief to two related but uniquely different audiences, a key challenge was ensuring adequate stakeholder management, specifically factoring in needs of both tenants and landlords. Within each stakeholder group, there were complicating factors and nuances around communication for each. Examples include: 

  • ERAP 
    • Communication approaches were needed for both tenant and landlord. 
    • Tenant communications needed to be available in different mediums (email, postal mail, and text). 
    • Text messaging, while convenient, also had limitations due to character limits. 
    • Landlord communications were focused on one medium, email; however, tenants were not required to provide an owner email address. In those cases, an alternative method, such as text (e.g., application submission) or call (e.g., automated calling) were used to provide important updates.  
    • Owner communication was provided only in English, while tenant communication was available in nine language translations, with the most common being English and Spanish.  
  • LRAP 
    • The LRAP was designed for Landlord communication primarily, with all communication notices being sent only in one medium, email, and one language, English.  
    • The one exception to this communication was payment notices; payment approval notices were sent to tenants by postal mail, in two translations: English and Spanish. 
    • Beyond payment notices, there was no defined tenant communication, because Landlords were not required to provide the tenant email address, which stifled the completeness of the data point. 

Project Impacts and Outcomes 

The engagement team worked with the ERAP and LRAP project leaders to develop the overall communications plan for tenants and landlords. The communication plan improved program communication and led to increased satisfaction from program participants. Notable implemented successes were: 

  • Communication Database: The communication database is the central repository for all matters pertaining to tenant or landlord communication.  
  • Communication Tracker: The communication tracker serves as the resource which identifies all outgoing communication, including the following data points: unique identifier, type of communication, audience/recipient, medium, number of applications impacted, due date of notice(s), status, and file path for the shared storage location.  
  • Customer Service Representative Portal: Bulk communications were managed through a central technology for transmittal in all mediums: emails, postal mail, and text. 
  • Client Review Tracker: The client review tracker captures notifications requiring the agency’s review, response, and/or approval, and includes a status/resolution of the notification. 
  • Notification Templates: Templates were created to support consistent, streamlined, and accurate stakeholder communication for tenants and landlords. 
  • Technology Oversight: The engagement team worked directly with development on application enhancements, routine maintenance, and as-needed bug fixes. 

Posted on

February 2, 2024