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Watching Properties That are At Risk

May 2020

Inside one company’s COVID-19 mobilization effort.

This is the first in a recurring series of articles looking at how apartment owners, managers and developers have mobilized to protect themselves and their residents from the spread of the novel (meaning new) coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S.

Like many apartment operators, Steve Hallsey, Managing Director of Wood Partners, hasn’t slept much in the past couple of weeks.

“The term ‘crazy times’ might be an understatement,” he says. “I have been working 24 hours a day for the past seven days on [COVID-19].” 

Without a roadmap for how to prepare for a global pandemic (caused by a virus that quickly spreads), Hallsey and his team at Wood are doing the best they can. “We are doing everything we can think of to address this issue,” Hallsey says.

Wood is building emergency management teams and an escalation tree to help identify and prioritize risks. It is gathering information by talking to other management companies and the Centers for Disease and Control, and working with the National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council on protocols for the industry.

At the site level, Wood is closing amenities, lowering the number of staff, stopping resident events, contracting with an engineering company for sanitization of properties, and upping its cleaning protocols. It is also buying personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

Above all, it’s communicating with its residents and limiting personal contact with prospective residents. “We’re only doing virtual tours with prospects,” Hallsey says. 

The company is also monitoring its portfolio. “We are watching properties that are at risk,” Hallsey says. “We have one senior property.”

Personnel management is also a huge priority. “We’re developing staffing plans for absentee employees and working with employees with children [school closures],” Hallsey says.

The only certainty right now is that things will change. “Last week was busy, and this week will probably be busier,” Hallsey said at the beginning of the week.