Welcome Home


Housing rules and lease information is confusing, overwhelming, and difficult to understand


Orientation to welcome new residents, explain rules, and meet staff


90-minute mock orientation


Welcome video, simplified handouts, and a 15-minute one-on-one version of orientation

Both residents and staff said that moving into POAH was a stressful experience. Residents felt bombarded with paperwork. Critical information, like house rules and how to renew your lease, were buried under jargon and only seemed to emphasize what you can’t do, not what you can do. Residents often left feeling confused, overwhelmed, and unwelcome. In some cases, residents would wind up with a lease violation weeks later for something they hadn’t even realized was prohibited.

Teams across POAH wanted to introduce a resident orientation that residents could leave feeling excited and welcome. They also hoped changing how POAH communicated from the very beginning could help lower residents’ stress, improve their experience at POAH, and even reduce lease violations down the road.

One team of staff and residents tested a mock orientation with a small group of residents. Neighbors were treated to welcome baskets and dinner. During the 90-minute orientation, they met staff from maintenance, property management, and resident services. They played a “Family Feud”-style game to learn about common lease violations. They left with a list of resources in their neighborhood, a list of important contacts, and most importantly, more confidence, relationships, and information. One resident said, "This was fun. New resident orientation makes feel like the rent office cares."

Key Learning

Affordable housing rules and policies are important – and often high stakes. If residents slip up, they may end up with a lease violation or worse, at risk of losing their housing. Staff knew this but felt the best solution was to provide as much information up front as possible. This often meant that the most critical issues (reporting a change in your income, certain work orders, guest policies) often went unnoticed. Staff learned that they needed to break complex rules down into their simple parts and communicate them in a warm, fun and compassionate way.

Staff from across POAH teamed up to turn this one-time orientation into “Welcome Home,” a set of tools and resources that any POAH property could introduce to new and returning residents. “Welcome Home” includes handouts, videos (created by residents!), and a revamped orientation that breaks down critical information in simple, compassionate, and inclusive ways. The handouts helped distill critical information in an easy-to-read format. Residents could use the video to learn more about POAH staff and the kinds of help they offer. What started as an experiment in communicating with dignity and belonging transformed into a set of guiding principles that teams could apply to multiple interactions with residents.

Residents and staff teamed up to create a Welcome Home video for new residents to learn the roles and responsibilities of the POAH Communities team.
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