Roma Lewis: Leading A Small PHA Amidst Changing Technology

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Has your PHA software provider been acquired by another company? Here’s what the Ferris Housing Authority, led by executive director Roma Lewis, did when a change in software led to big problems.

Headshot of Roma Lewis, Executive Director, Ferris Housing Authority, with quote: "Breeze Premier is a dynamic product that's easy to learn and work in, and it comes with a great support team."

Hi Roma! Tell us about your PHA.

My name is Roma Lewis, and I’m the executive director of the Ferris Housing Authority. We are located just south of Dallas, Texas. Our portfolio has 36 public housing units in properties owned by our PHA. We have just three part-time employees, including myself.

What is your background in the PHA industry?

I’ve worked in this industry for nearly 40 years, going all the way back to 1983. For 20 of those years, I was the executive director for the Housing Authority of Garland, Texas. We had more than 2,400 vouchers under management at the time. I love the current phase of my career, having retired from Garland to work part-time in Ferris. We’re a standalone agency, that is, not a city or county department, which helps to simplify my work life.

How did you know it was time to consider new PHA software?

Our former software provider served our PHA well for years. It was quite user friendly and met the needs of our small team.

Another company acquired our software provider, and we suddenly got moved to a new product. We gave that system a chance but soon became unsatisfied. It seemed our support team was learning the new software on the fly. Training content became inconsistent. And to make things worse, we lost approximately 35% of our data and reports during the migration to the new system. We got bounced around from one person to another trying to fix things. It was a nightmare.

What did you decide to do?

We moved to Yardi Breeze Premier. We went live in November 2021 and are very happy with our decision to make the move.

What I like most about Yardi’s support is that there isn’t just one person I have to rely on for help. When I call for help with training, data conversion or troubleshooting errors, there’s always someone there ready to talk.

A big component of our launch of Breeze Premier was converting data from our former system. Instead of just automating the whole thing and hoping for the best, our Yardi team learned the way we manage data and took the time to get on the same page with my team, making sure we didn’t lose data again.

I appreciate that level of service. I feel it’s an exceptional value, especially for a small housing authority such as Ferris.

How has your team improved as a result of Yardi products and services?

We are a lot more efficient, and frankly, less frustrated. Breeze Premier is a dynamic product that’s easy to learn and work in, and it comes with a great support team. I recommend smaller PHAs, like our team in Ferris, take a look at what it has to offer.