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Resident Support Specialist

Employees October 20, 2016
Thies & Talle Management takes pride in providing the highest quality of housing. The pride we take includes outstanding service to all residents. We believe that offering residents opportunities in all aspects of their lives will improve our communities and resident lifestyles as a whole.  This is our mission and to ensure this mission we created the Resident Support Program and the position of Resident Support Specialist. We sat down with our Resident Support Specialist, Emily Cheesebrow to discuss her role and how it has made an impact on our resident’s lives and the communities they call home. What is your background in property management? I have always had a connection with housing, and wanted to work in the field in some fashion ever since I started thinking about my career path. I worked for Ramsey County HouseCalls as an On-Call Child Advocate from 2005–2013 until the program was cut from the county budget. In 2006, I was in the Social Services field working at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and saw an ad in the paper for the Leasing Specialist position at Afton View Apartments and thought I would go for it. I began working there as soon as I could and loved it! I was later promoted to Property Manager at Shamrock Court Apartments and stayed there for two years during the transition from the 236 affordable program to market rate. I regretfully left Thies & Talle Management for two years and was the property manager at Oakdale Village Apartments. I did stay in contact with some of my prior Thies & Talle coworkers who referred me to this position when it opened. I was very excited for an opportunity to mix both of my passions for housing and services into one place. When did the Resident Services position start? I started in December 2015 before the Turn & Learn. What is your goal as Resident Support Specialist? My goal is to enhance the quality of life for residents, to help prevent evictions, when possible, and to assist residents in connecting with resources to better their situation or meet their goals. I also want to help create new and innovative solutions for property managers who continue to face similar situations. This is why I have joined the MN Hoarding Task Force. This group is working on creating better ways to help people who hoard and are developing new methods of action. I think collaborations and networking with various people in different agencies and organizations can lead to new ways of addressing the needs of our communities. Are there any materials or information that you have collected/created that property managers can use? If so where can they find it? There is a Resident Support Program brochure, along with a section of chapters in Sharepoint, and a section of the website. There is a list of resources in Sharepoint as well that can be searched by property. Currently, it has financial assistance and energy assistance options. I am working on adding other resources to this list such as Homework Clubs, Domestic Violence Advocates, Food Shelves etc. That way, there is an avenue for managers to quickly get this information, and a database of these resources for each area. What are some of the issues that Property Managers can contact you to help with? I have been contacted for a number of issues, some of which are: Help with hoarding situations Resident-to-Resident conflicts Assistance with job searches or connecting to resume building workshops Help with understanding and navigating county paperwork Working with a resident who is having difficulty understanding management rules or practices Working with a resident who had their identity stolen Working with a resident who has continuous minor lease violations Just to list a few, but I am ready for anything. Can every property contact you? Yes Can a property manager contact you, or should it go through their regional manager? Managers can definitely reach out to me on their own, in most cases, Regional Property Managers have been involved or are aware of the situation. A Property Manager can make a referral to Resident Services directly and do the referral process, but should keep their Regional Property Manager in the loop so that we are all on the same page. What is the best way to contact you when a property manager needs help with an issue? I can be contacted via phone or email. Most of the time, if I get an email, I will call to obtain more information. I also use a referral form process if requests are made for me to talk to the resident directly. The referral form is a tool for me to know that the manager is not just asking for my advice, but is interested in having me contact the resident personally. It also helps me stay organized and keep track of people and properties I am working with. Where do you office out of? I office at both Chanhassen and Afton View Apartments in St. Paul. I have the same phone number at both places. What are some examples of issues that you have helped with? I have helped several people through the Emergency Assistance process. I have connected two residents who were being cited for housekeeping violations to agencies that helped them pass inspections. I have helped a resident with head-start, school and county benefit applications. I have assisted residents who were having a difficult time understanding or believing management and saw me as a person separate from the influences at the property, and therefore I was able to help resolve disputes that may have otherwise been escalated. There have been instances where a manager has completed a referral for me to reach out to the resident. In some of these cases, the resident never returned my call and the problem stopped once I began to call.   At Afton View you have had some success with different events. Can you give us some examples of events that you have done? At Afton View Apartments, I have been working on community-building activities. I began with a survey in which I talked to residents about possible things we could do and what they were interested in. Since the survey, I have made connections and have been building contacts in the Afton View area and have coordinated:
  • Safety meetings with police
  • Canoe trip with the Wilderness Inquiry
  • Cooking classes with Twin Cities Mobile Market and SNAP-Ed UMN Extension Services
  • Discount trip to Circus Juventus with St. Paul Police Outreach
  • Community Clean Up day with supplies provided by the city and Twin Cities Mobile Market
  • Job fair with CoreStaff/Shutterfly
And soon to be starting a Mom and Toddler class with Early Childhood Family Education and Highwood Hills Elementary. If a property manager wanted to do a similar event, where should they start? If you are looking for advice on coordinating a one time or on-going event, I would be happy to assist you. I am not available to run on-going events at properties, but I am certainly willing to talk with organizations and resources in the area to find out what is available within your community and connect you to people who can help. I am also available to discuss your current ideas and/or brainstorm other types of events or platforms that may work in your community. What is your contact information? Emily Cheesebrow 952-906-7219,