What is arm365?

arm365 is a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) compliant, Microsoft Power Apps solution that was built for housing counseling agencies around the nation that are participating in HUD Housing Counseling.

Why the name arm365?

The HUD reporting service that agencies must communicate with is called the Agency Reporting Module, or ARM.  When arm365 was first built, it was built using the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online platform.  Combining these two left us with the simple name, arm365.

What is HUD Housing Counseling?

HUD Housing Counseling provides counseling to consumers on seeking, financing, maintaining, renting, or owning a home. The program also addresses homelessness through counseling and assists homeowners in need of foreclosure assistance.  It enables anyone who wants to (or already does) rent or own housing-whether through a HUD program, a Veterans Affairs program, other Federal programs, a State or local program, or the regular private market-to get the counseling they need to make their rent or mortgage payments and to be a responsible tenant or owner in other ways. The counseling is provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

All Housing Counseling Agencies (HCAs) participating in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program are required to use a Client Management System (CMS) that interfaces with HUD’s Housing Counseling System (HCS). A CMS is a commercial or self-developed online housing counseling database that assists with much of the housing counseling process, including client intake, file maintenance, financial and credit analysis, outreach, client notification, and reporting. Automated data transfer from each agency’s CMS to HUD’s HCS, replacing the manual input process.

History of arm365

In 2017, Patrick O’Gorman had the opportunity to work with Applied Information Sciences (AIS), Microsoft, and the Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC) in Chicago, to develop a solution that would allow the NWSHC to achieve compliance with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Counseling Program and track data points needed for private funders.

Sean Washington and James Rudyk, both from NWSHC, brought the determination and business intelligence for the effort, while Patrick O’Gorman brought the technical expertise.  Sean was key in helping Patrick understand the process behind collecting the data, as well as how much of that data was already captured in their Dynamics 365 system, and how it was being reported on.  The team studied the HUD requirements, built prototypes, and ultimately figured out a way to build this so that it was an affordable option for other housing centers operating on small budgets.

In January 2018 the solution was certified by HUD for exclusive use by the NWSHC.  A short time later, in April of 2018, OGS secured HUD certification for the publicly available arm365 solution.

A message from Sean Washington, Director of Operations for the Northwest Side Housing Center in Chicago

“A major part of our work at the Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC) is reporting client data to our funders. There was a time when we were triple entering data into different data systems, which was time-consuming and inefficient. However, the NWSHC must maintain multiple management systems and data sources to operate different service areas and must uphold the distinct reporting requirements for its funding sources.

In 2014, Microsoft heard of our issue through the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy. Microsoft reached out to affiliates from Japan to Seattle, who donated one week of work time to create a Dynamics Customer Relations Manager (CRM) prototype that will ultimately eliminate the need to duplicate data entry on multiple systems, maintain several physical files, search for client information, and manually collate reports for funding sources.

With the help of Ocwen, the NWSHC worked closely with Patrick to continue building the database and address the issue of connecting Microsoft’s product with HUD’s data collection system. With guidance from advisors at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington, D.C., OGS and NWSHC finished the project that Microsoft graciously originally started during a one-week “hackathon.” Without the help of partners like Microsoft, OGS, and Ocwen, it would be impossible for NWSHC to have obtained HUD approval in December of 2017. Our data entry time has been cut in half and our team loves using the new system. Most importantly, through this one-of-a-kind partnership with Microsoft, OGS, & Ocwen, the NWSHC is more efficient in serving the community that we care so deeply about.”