On a webinar in August 2021, Equifax and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) co-presented a discussion on the transformative power of data to serve consumers in need and government agencies working to serve those consumers.
Danicka Ransom spoke about how her public housing authority (PHA) uses data to prevent public fraud and help disadvantaged tenants. Ms. Ransom is the assistant human services director for Osceola County, Florida, a county of 270,000 people just south of Orlando. Ms. Ransom is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) Program through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). She works with individuals and programs that serve the most vulnerable in the community. Ransom mentioned how fraud in housing applications spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Ransom saw people getting “really creative” with attempting to fake verifications, like paystubs and other information. This fraud takes away services from tenants truly in need. Ransom noted how having an independent, trusted third-party verification service, like that offered by Equifax’s The Work Number, can help prevent fraud and make sure those that are qualified for assisted housing are actually eligible for that assistance. Through data from private companies, housing authorities can do a better job of weeding out the fraudsters and accepting the innocent and deserving, Ransom said. Ransom also mentioned how the electronic tools from Equifax can speed up the application process for those in need of housing assistance. Ransom added, “[h]aving a [real-time data] solution [from a private company, like Equifax] has really allowed us to continue to move forward with ensuring that we are servicing income-qualifying clients the right way with the most recent information.”