Last month I explained how to create an account on the FHA website and log in. This month I’ll show you how to use one of the most popular and useful features of the website, the Directory.

If you are reading this on the web page version of the newsletter, you can see the link to the Directory on the blue menu bar at the top of the page, fourth item from the left. If you have not logged in, you will find that you have access only to very limited features of the Directory, but if you do log in and hover your cursor over that item on the menu, you will see that there several options.

Finding peopleYou may want to explore all of these, but for now I focus on the first option, Find People. Suppose you want to find a friend’s email address. Select Find People, and you will see that there are a number of ways to find the person you are looking for (Figure 1). Again, you can explore them all, but let’s find the person by Last Name.

In the box labeled, Start typing … type the first two letters of the person’s last name. You will see a list of all residents whose last name begins with those letters. Sometimes that’s all you need. If the list is quite long, type a third letter. Rarely will you need to type more than three or four letters to find the person (see Figure 2; the personal details are blurred here to preserve privacy).

There is one strange quirk to the directory search process that you should be aware of and beware of. If it happens to you, it can cause a lot of frustration. Try the search for the same name one more time.

Tap or click on the small red Clear button beside the input box. Type the first letter, “p”. Then, as quickly as you can, type two more letters, “i t”. When I do this, no names at all appear in the list. It looks as if there are no residents whose last names begin “pit”, which we know is not true.

List of residentsThe problem is that the software managing the directory search cannot work correctly if the input characters are typed too quickly. They register correctly on the screen, but the search process that the directory search relies on is overwhelmed. This does not happen for every user, but when it does, it can be very disconcerting.

The solution is simple. Just type the initial characters one at a time, quite deliberately. After I was trapped by this quirk, I eventually trained myself not to rush through the typing.

There is much more to the directory you may find helpful. Your Neighborhood provides you with the directory information for everyone on your block. You can find this information for any block in the village. Select one of the 24 FHA areas from the dropdown list, and you will see the neighborhood listing for every block in that area.

Under Find Other you can obtain the directory information for Block and Area Contacts in any area, as well as information for the various Service Groups or for FHA Board members.
With all this information available to you, perhaps you can see why the Directory is considered to be so useful.

Happy browsing.

—Gordon Pitz (communications@fhaboard.org)