Serving Soldiers and Families in Need by Working in Military and Affordable Housing
The residential property management industry is as diverse as the more than 35 million people in the United States who call an apartment their home. Many people are probably familiar with their neighborhood apartment community, the high-rise apartment building downtown or the unit they shared with friends while attending college. They may not realize that like other industries ours also has different specialty areas that offer plenty of rewarding career opportunities for job seekers.
Two of these areas are military housing and affordable housing, and each serves a particular type of resident with their own unique needs and challenges that people working in these areas must accommodate in order to be successful and create a community those residents are proud to call home.
Military housing caters to the men and women serving in the armed forces, as well as their families. These apartment communities may be located on a military base or nearby in off-base communities. Affordable housing is a segment of our industry in which residents receive some type of assistance to help pay their monthly rent. Residents must typically meet eligibility requirements based on their income to qualify to live in these communities.
While military housing and affordable housing are both part of the overall residential property management industry, working in each of these sectors requires a particular skill set because of the challenges faced by the residents they serve. Those serving military families and families who qualify for affordable housing find work in these communities extremely rewarding. It’s a great way to give back to the community and the country while also embarking on a meaningful career.
For example, military housing pays a lot of attention to customer service.
“It’s a level of customer service that is unique from other types of housing given the nature of the people you are serving,” says Lynn Bora, vice president of operations support services for WinnResidential. “These families often have loved ones who are on military deployment, or who are just returning home, so they deserve a quality living experience that reflects a keen understanding of what military service members and their families require from their communities.”
Affordable housing also has a big customer service component, but people working in this sector of the industry need to excel at administrative tasks, have a knack for paying attention to detail and want to help people find homes. People working in affordable housing also ensure their community and its policies comply with the rules and regulations governing the industry and submit reports to affordable housing agencies.
“Opportunities to obtain a fulfilling career abound in both the military and affordable housing sectors,” Bora says. “In both instances, you’re looking to offer residents – who are sometimes facing challenging circumstances – peaceful, welcoming and high quality homes. Working in this environment requires individuals who are empathetic, attentive and incredibly detail-oriented.”
These sectors also offer plenty of opportunities for job seekers that are only expected to increase in the coming years.
“Over the past decade, the military establishment has reached out to private multifamily companies to address the ever-growing needs for property management services,” she says. “As we continue to follow this upward trend, the industry will require a workforce of individuals who are ready to assist and address the needs of our nation’s service members.
“As for affordable housing, the government and the private sectors are now working more closely together than ever, to address community needs. This is evidenced by the abundance of new construction, much of which has an affordable housing component to it.”
The typical career paths for each mirror that seen in the residential property management industry as a whole. People typically start working onsite as a leasing consultant, maintenance technician or a specialist in customer/resident relations and work their way into management positions. Some people may take positions in larger property management companies and move into more specialized roles, such as marketing, finance, accounting, asset management, etc.
Bora suggests that college students and recent graduates who are interested in working in either military or affordable housing attend job fairs, network with others working in these areas and participate in internship or job shadow programs at these types of communities. Bora also advises learning as much as possible online about companies serving these sectors and even visiting a military or affordable housing community.
The National Apartment Association’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/NAAhqVideos features short videos on affordable and fair housing, as well as background on working in the industry.
Follow NAAEI on Twitter @NAAEI.