COVID Challenges Bring Positive Change

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A funny thing happened during COVID-19, Kodiak Island Housing Authority (KIHA) became a more work-life friendly space. Mindy Pruitt, KIHA's executive director, made this observation recently 18-months into the pandemic.

Prior to COVID-19, KIHA had a typical 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. office setting with somewhat rigid, outdated processes. There was little flexibility and very little technology in place. Pruitt and her small but dedicated team had to figure out a way to make things work during a very challenging time, where not only their community was feeling the impact of the pandemic, but some employees, as well.

Identifying Challenges & Finding Solutions

“As we all know, COVID-19 has caused so much disruption to so many people and businesses struggling to cope with new requirements, public health restrictions, impacts at home and life in general,” said Pruitt.

“Our challenge was that the circumstances not only impacted those we serve, but those that serve, as well — our employees. Like the broader community, some needed to home school, others needed to care for family members, and others were dealing directly with COVID-19 illness personally," she shared. 

Pruitt knew that it was imperative that KIHA maintain its commitment to keep people safely in their homes. KIHA’s partnership with Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) and its Alaska Housing Rent Relief program was critical to this effort. As a key participant in the AHFC AHRR program, Pruitt was able to observe actions and process being exercised by various partners in the program, which included nonprofit groups, government agencies and tribal entities, and through these examples she developed a new business plan.

“While the pandemic has certainly been difficult, something wonderful happened at KIHA; we changed our business model to not only extend our community reach, but also help our employees."

— Mindy Pruitt, executive director, KIHA

Helping Those That Help Others

Taking a cue from the various AHRR statewide partners, Pruitt and her team evaluated needs internally and created phased working environments, with some staff working at home or at two other office locations. She was also able to upgrade technology, providing the opportunity for any employee to work remotely, if needed, and set-up COVID pay for those in need.

The result? Positive conversations and a re-dedicated, re-energized group of employees working in a better environment and meeting the housing needs of the Kodiak community.  The bonus? The family friendly business and revised work environment has also helped recruit new employees. KIHA is truly a unified team of people passionate about housing!