Creating Opportunities, Empowering Communities: A Q&A with Resident Engagement Manager, Melissa Rodrigues
The real estate sector’s approach to community engagement is vast and varied, with firms adopting distinct approaches to resident engagement and community building. For Jair Lynch, resident engagement isn’t just a strategy—it’s foundational to both community and investment success. While many multifamily property owners and developers lean exclusively on third-party property management firms to provide resident services, Jair Lynch has chosen a different path. By integrating a Resident Engagement Manager at the corporate level, we’re able to ensure the values and mission of Jair Lynch are fully embedded and implemented throughout the communities we serve.
In this blog, we sit down with Jair Lynch’s Resident Engagement Manager, Melissa Rodrigues, to explore the depth and breadth of her role in ensuring our service offerings meet the highest standards of quality, and that our corporate investment decisions consistently prioritize the needs and well-being of our residents. Let’s dive in.
Q1: Tell us about your role as resident engagment manager for Jair lynch real estate partners. how does this role contribute to residents’ well-being?
As Resident Engagement Manager for Jair Lynch, I am focused on creating opportunities for our residents, particularly those residing in our attainable housing communities, to thrive. Serving the underserved has been a focus of mine for the majority of my professional career, and with my role on the Jair Lynch team, I’m able to amplify that service on a larger scale. In this role, I work closely with our third-party property management partners to provide residents with access to social support programs, educational opportunities, financial assistance programs, health and wellness programs, and more. I ensure that the firm’s values of creativity, teamwork, diversity, and excellence are upheld across our various properties and work with property managers to ensure we’re meeting residents where they are personally, financially, and professionally.
Q2: in your role, you’ve made a positive impact on the lives of the residents you serve across jair lynch’s attainable housing community portfolio. can you share some examples of your methods?
Since stepping into the role, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of creating policies and procedures that uphold the mission of our company. Setting expectations from an ownership level has allowed me to implement initiatives quickly, thereby bridging the gap between our residents and those who oversee operations on-site.
To best serve our residents, I led the creation of Jair Lynch’s six Impact Categories: Housing, Financial Literacy/ Economic Mobility, Social Services, Education, Health/ Wellness, and Community Engagement. Each category houses a variety of service areas that provide guidance to on-site team members as they plan, host, and offer services and events.
On a monthly basis, our property management partners host dozens of events at each community to engage residents and provide opportunities for residents to interact with each other, with property management staff, and with local support organizations. We initiated a major event-planning push in January 2023 across our attainable communities, and we’ve since held over 400 events! Each event correlates to one of our six Impact Categories and typically includes free food, giveaways, music, educational opportunities, health and wellness, activities, financial education, and more. Collectively, our events have been attended by over 18,000 residents.
I’ve also had the privilege of fostering of partnerships with likeminded companies such as Esusu, Veritas, Cornerstones, and Opportunity Neighborhood, to name a few, which have all proven to be extremely beneficial for our residents. Whether providing financial literacy and credit-building through Esusu, free healthcare access through Veritas, or after-school programming through Opportunity Neighborhood, our partnerships with local and national social service providers have proven to be a successful effort in enhancing the lives of our residents.
Q3: tell us how you work to create a sense of community and belonging within your residential communities.
Creating a sense of community and belonging is a difficult task. It requires attention to detail and trends that are often overlooked. To better understand our communities and residents, we created a Needs Assessment process for each of our properties. This process uses property-specific data and on-site team insight to better understand the overall needs and opportunities most relevant to each community.
Data and insight can only take us so far, which is why we also make use of anonymous surveys. This method allows me to hear the voices of our residents firsthand. The outcome of this process is the creation of individual Resident Services Plans for each property, which aim to address those needs in a more detailed and intentional manner.
We’ve also introduced resident newsletters, enhanced social media presence, and regular community engagement events, as I mentioned, to ensure that residents are continuously involved and aware of happenings within their community, thereby giving them the option to participate and connect with their neighbors and property management staff members.
Q4: You mention that Access to social services is a significant aspect of your work. Could you elaborate on the types of social services that are made available to residents?
Social Services, categorized under the Jair Lynch Impact Categories, encompass a variety of service areas. These areas include, but are not limited to, food insecurity, clothing and basic needs, and relationships with social workers and case managers. A variety of our communities utilize partnerships with local non-profits to adhere to the Social Service Impact Category expectations. Partnerships with Capital Area Food Bank and DC Kitchen have proven to be wonderful resources for our residents experiencing food insecurities, allowing them to obtain premade meals and prepackaged ingredients. Mobile Hope and relationships with local Police Departments are partnerships that assist residents with clothing, housing, and basic items.
Ensuring that residents have a safe space on-site is crucial in determining areas of opportunity. We encourage our property management partners to host office hours and promote 1-on-1 resident meetings to provide residents with an opportunity to speak freely about their needs. Each attainable community within our portfolio has also been provided with a Resource List that provides a selection of local resources, services offered, contact information, and more. These lists are living documents that I revisit and add to as resources become available.
Q5: How do you ensure residents are aware of and have access to the social services and resources you facitlitate?
On a monthly basis, property management teams are encouraged to create and distribute a resident newsletter. These newsletters provide residents with a quick view of community happenings, office hours and contact information, upcoming Impact Category-based events, and reminders/best practices regarding property and home maintenance. These reminders and newsletters are sent through a variety of methods including flyers in high-traffic areas, door-to-door distribution, e-blasts, and/or resident portals and social media accounts. Our intent is to ensure that all residents are able to fully understand who our partners are and the unique service offerings that may be available to them.
All communications are distributed by our on-site teams and are made available in a variety of languages to serve our diverse resident communities.
Q6: Looking ahead, what are your future plans and goals for the resident engagement program, and how do you envision continuing to enhance the lives of your residents through the services you provide?
The potential is truly limitless. We’re working to establish baseline items, like reporting and programming standards, and we’ll continue to build up from there. The foundational initiatives we’ve implemented to date allow room for growth whether it be new funding streams, establishment of additional partnerships, or staffing additions at the property level who can be solely dedicated to Resident Engagement. Residents are at the heart of what we do, they’re the people who make these communities extraordinary. Their voices count and deserve to be heard. I’ll continue to listen, continue to grow, and continue to bridge the gaps we often see throughout the multifamily realm. It is truly my privilege to do so and I’m excited to continue amplifying our positive impact on the communities we serve.
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