GHVP chooses Zendesk for compliance and transparency in government

The Georgia Housing Voucher Program (GHVP) is a $24 million state-funded program providing permanent supportive housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are experiencing homelessness. The agency chose Zendesk to provide staff with operational insights and secure visibility into both internal and external communications.

Georgia Housing Voucher Program

"Zendesk has allowed our agency to be so much more collaborative. It's modernizing our service system and things aren’t falling through the cracks anymore.”

Maxwell Ruppersburg

Director, Office of Supportive Housing at Georgia Housing Voucher Program

“It's important for governmental agencies to take advantage of the most recent advancements in technology to improve our service delivery and equity while maximizing the limited resources that we all have to work with."

Maxwell Ruppersburg

Director, Office of Supportive Housing at Georgia Housing Voucher Program

Organization Size

5,000

Headquarters

Atlanta, Georgia

Number of Agents

16

The Georgia Housing Voucher Program (GHVP) is a $24 million state-funded program providing permanent supportive housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are experiencing homelessness. As the Georgia behavioral health authority, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) targets the most vulnerable Georgians who are uninsured and have behavioral health needs.

With Georgia being the eighth largest state in the country, GHVP works with 1,800 individuals, 1,000+ landlords or properties, and 30 behavioral health providers. The program works with six regional field offices and is managed by the Office of Supportive Housing in the central state office.

All these moving parts make for a very complex program that depends on careful coordination and essential, time-sensitive communication. Prior to adopting Zendesk in 2020, however, GHVP relied on email and shared inboxes to manage these demands, making for a chaotic communication environment that was vulnerable to information gaps, loss, and errors and lacked transparency.

Managing multiple layers of local, state, & national demands

As a state-run agency helping individuals with acute needs negotiate some of life’s most difficult situations, GHVP has to juggle many different responsibilities. They must ensure reliability, professionalism, and accountability on all fronts, as well as be responsive and proactive in order to build trust with the landlords and mental health providers with which they coordinate. On top of those responsibilities, reporting to the Department of Justice adds an extra level of requirements in terms of compliance, transparency, and accountability.

When Maxwell Ruppersburg, MPA, PMP joined the department in late 2019 as Director for the Office of Supportive Housing, he was put in charge of a comprehensive strategic change process for the office. The initial assessment found that the overwhelming majority of employees’ time was spent on communication and paperwork––responsibilities that fell largely on staff people who were already under-resourced and overworked.

At the time, GHVP staff relied on shared inboxes to manage their communication and task lists, but this method did not allow them the operational insight and accountability they needed. Illnesses, vacations, or unfinished tasks meant that constituents’ needs––whether for a certain form or a rent payment––could face delays or go unresolved, creating unwanted challenges for providers and unwanted risk for clients.

GHVP

Centralizing resources & communications

GHVP initially adopted Zendesk in 2020. Having worked with the platform previously, Ruppersburg knew it would be a good fit for helping GHVP streamline and centralize its communications, as well as support employees and agencies across the state. Zendesk met the agency’s criteria of being cost-effective, easily deployable, and adaptable for future uses.

Zendesk is now the go-to resource for GHVP providers and staff across the state of Georgia. GHVP uses it to store forms, articles, and walkthrough guides, centralizing all relevant information for its providers to access easily with one click. As a result, Zendesk has become extremely popular with the providers, as it has given them a new level of convenience that Ruppersburg says was a big metric of success for the agency.

Maintaining excellence & compliance across the board

Zendesk’s encryption processes allowed GHVP to meet strict state and federal requirements, including HIPAA compliance and the ability to transmit sensitive information in a secure manner. Resources available on the Zendesk website guided GHVP on how to meet these and other requirements, making compliance far easier and quicker to attain than ever before.

Zendesk has also given GHVP staff better oversight and full visibility into communications between staff members and with external vendors. Now, in the case of a staff person’s absence or vacation, the central office is able to pick up where they left off and escalate a situation if necessary. According to Ruppersburg, with Zendesk “it’s so much more collaborative, and things aren’t falling through the cracks anymore.”

Perhaps most importantly, Zendesk delivers what people expect to see from a governmental agency: a level of professionalism, reliability, and cleanliness that inspires trust in both providers and recipients. According to Ruppersburg, “It’s important that governmental agencies own their responsibility to improve the quality of the services they deliver, to meet people where they are, and to take advantage of the most recent advancements in technology to improve our service delivery and equity while maximizing the limited resources that we all have to work with. So, for me, Zendesk is not just doing better email––it’s modernizing our service system.”

Creating self-serve solutions with Zendesk

Moving forward, GHVP is looking to find new ways to integrate Zendesk into its next phase of digital transformation. While many of the agency’s forms have already been digitized and made available through Zendesk, their ultimate goal is to do an overall system change that will handle all of the necessary forms and processes.

This innovation will help providers and constituents better serve their own needs without any help from GHVP staff. To that same end, Ruppersburg says the agency is hoping to adopt some of the self-service options Zendesk offers, as well as its AI capability to handle repeated inquiries.

Above all, Ruppersburg looks forward to sharing Zendesk with other parts of the agency and helping other teams benefit from the solution.