Posted on August 22, 2011 by HSC
When it comes to planning what you are wearing, where you are going for dinner or what time you are going to gym, you may find it easy to make these decisions. When it comes to planning for your future, understanding your investments, or thinking what the next thirty years will look like, you may become over whelmed and quickly focus back on your dinner plans. I think we all do this in some shape or form, but can we allow this pattern to continue when it comes to managing our properties?
Planning for the future in social housing is difficult; however, utilizing practical software programs that forecast the future by mapping out needs and funding availability can make the task easier. This is not to say that miracles happen and funding will magically appear… but it does give you an accurate and true picture of the reality of your properties.
As portfolios age, housing providers and service managers are making tough decisions to regenerate, redevelop and rebuild structures. Maintenance plans and capital repairs are being completed to keep our buildings safe and standing for years to come. All of these actions fall under the umbrella of “Capital Planning”.
Housing providers everywhere are looking at their buildings and saying, “Am I going to have enough money to maintain the current living conditions?”, or “Is it worth putting money into this building, or how many years are we going to get if we fund x, y, and z?” As these questions echo across the province, we need to say, “Yes” to capital planning and “Yes” to capital planning software programs.
It is no secret that there is a major shortfall in social housing funding, however the question is: “How much does the sector need and what needs are a priority to be funded?” This question has been plaguing us for years and many numbers have been thrown around with no real data to support the claims. The best we can do is guestimate based on what we think is needed and go from there. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew what needed to be funded and where the money should be spent? Wouldn’t it make sense if we were able to say to the government: “This is the current condition and this is where we are heading?” These questions can be answered, but we would all need to drink the capital planning kool-aid and get on board.
SHSC has partnered with Ameresco, a company who delivers energy management solutions, to help get these questions answered. They have developed a software program called Asset Planner that incorporates capital planning for all types of housing and is user friendly to boot. This software program can roll up the needs of thousands of buildings and accurately communicate where the needs are, and how much funding is needed for many years to come. The only hiccup is…..housing providers need to collectively use the software so that their information is available for this data collection.
Can you imagine, SHSC being able to tell the government: “We need 600 million dollars in roofing over the next ten years, and the majority of the money is needed in Northern Ontario.” Or can you imagine SHSC being able to say: “We have 300 buildings in critical repair, and here is the business case communicating the redevelopment strategy to tear down and build again using green savings from the new build.” The possibilities are endless when information is shared and this is the time to do it.
Asset Planner is one of the most efficient and most affordable capital planning software programs on the market and it is being used across the province. From my opinion, it makes sense. It is a solution to a problem, and an opportunity to take advantage of. Social housing is a very complex business, and we need to think of it as any other business. We need to protect and plan for our investments and that includes our buildings.
To find out more, and to arrange a free presentation on the Asset Planner, contact SHSC Customer Care at 1-877-733-7472 or contact us