For rapid housing relief, Nevada’s biggest county went digital

New software from IBM eliminated the need for Clark County, Nevada's 2.2 million residents to visit an office in person to drop off applications for housing assistance.
houses in Nevada
(Getty Images)

To provide rapid housing assistance to residents during the coronavirus pandemic, Clark County, Nevada, adopted a cloud-based platform that removed the need for in-person interactions, a county official told StateScoop on Friday.

The 2.2 million person county integrated IBM’s citizen engagement platform into its own system earlier this month to more easily disperse $50 million in CARES Act funding to help residents with housing payments, said Tim Burch, the county’s human services administrator. People can apply, upload documents and receive funds online through IBM’s platform, which is linked to the county’s case management system and financial system.

Previously, Burch explained, residents who were eligible to receive CARES Act assistance had to download and print a PDF file from the county website and manually deliver it to one of 14 nonprofits spread throughout the county. Aside from potentially forcing people to leave their homes during a pandemic, the entire process was just slow, Burch said, compared to applying online.

“Now they can complete an application from their phone in under 20 minutes,” Burch said.


Clark County has contracted IBM to use its “Curam” software, which is used to build social services and health management tools, for at least seven years, Burch said. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the county needed a separate tool for quickly distributing federal and state aid to residents. It took 11 weeks to set up the citizen engagement platform, he said, with the county expediting a process that could normally take months.

Moving the assistance process to a digital platform instead of offices also moved Clark County staffers out of harm’s way, Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller said in a press release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of the residents of Greater Las Vegas and Clark County,” Schiller said. “We had a profound need to immediately address an unprecedented number of claims and, on top of that, navigate the issue that most of our government services were not open to the public and the staff processing assistance claims were forced to work in remote environments.”

Ryan Johnston

Written by Ryan Johnston

Ryan Johnston is a staff reporter for StateScoop, covering the intersection of local government and emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and 5G.

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