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HSC Happenings: January 2019

January 2019:

  • Business Solutions: Introducting HSC Business Solutions
  • Energy Services: UMP Generation 2 is ready to roll. Find out more and read articles from the latest issue of Energy Matters
  • Insurance & Risk Management: Read about the state of the union for our group program at the beginning of 2019. Also, we welcomed new providers to our group and bulk tenant insurance programs
  • Asset Management & Renewal: View resources from recent SHARE sessions. Register for the 2019 Regeneration Forum. And learn about how we helped Niagara Region act on its Building Condition Assessment (BCA) data
  • Partnerships: The sector bank is on the verge of achieving a historic first! Read about this and how Encasa’s changes to the investment program will keep money in our sector 
  • @HSC: Where we’ve been over the past few months and comings and goings at HSC and in the sector

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Business Solutions

Helping You Meet Your Local Needs: HSC Business Solutions

Thinking about a business improvement project but concerned that you don’t have the internal capacity to deliver it? Need help with developing your strategic plan or an important component of it? Require data analysis or research to support decision-making? HSC can help.

Over the years, HSC has assisted our clients on a mix of projects beyond our core programs. As a result, our expertise today spans strategic and data analysis, asset management, EOA analysis and financial modelling. We’ve also developed new competencies in Lean management and Organizational Change Management through the redesign of our own programs and services. Past projects include:

  • Facilitating Strategic Planning
  • Financial Modelling For Regeneration
  • Highest And Best Use Studies
  • Capital Repair Investigative Studies
  • Business Process Re-Engineering
  • IT Systems Implementation
  • Facilitating Operational Improvements

Unlike large consulting companies, our HSC Business Solutions unit brings knowledge of best practices in housing management. As a non-profit and a sector support organization, we’re not in it for the money. We’re happy to work on smaller projects where we can add capacity to your in-house team or provide niche expertise.

Recently, we helped Woodgreen Community Services in supporting their business transformation with technical and change management help:

Do you have a project where we can help?

Contact Judy Lightbound, Executive Lead, HSC Business Solutions   Download our Brochure

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Energy Services

Driving Savings, Meeting Compliance Requirements with Better Energy Benchmarking

Big changes are coming to HSC’s Utility Management Program (UMP), which will make it even easier to access building and portfolio-level data at a few clicks. And right in time as Ontario’s Energy and Water Benchmarking regulation for multi-residential buildings starts coming into force in July.

Since 2013, HSC has been benchmarking and tracking utility use on over 800 buildings for 255 providers across Ontario. UMP allows providers and Service Managers a way to identify the most efficient and inefficient buildings, understand causes and prioritize investments. This in turn enables you to maximize dollars offered by funding and incentive programs. Under the Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP), non-profit and cooperative housing providers in  the City of Toronto was able to secure $1.2M in incentives thanks to help from the data in UMP.

The new UMP makes it easier and quicker to get the information you need to assess building performance and make capital project decisions. It is built on EnergyCAP software, which is also used by more than 3,000 organizations across North America.

For more information on the new UMP, check out the story in our December Energy Matters. Are you a current UMP user? Watch for specific information about webinars and training sessions taking place this quarter!

Contact Us about UMP    

 

Energy Matters newsletter

Since my last update, there have been two issues of Energy Matters. Key highlights include:

Subscribe to the Energy Matters newsletter   Read previous issues of Energy Matters

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Insurance & Risk Management

The Power of the Group Insurance Program

We are hoping that 2019 will be a better year for our group program. 2018 was very challenging in terms of property claims. We had an extraordinarily large number of claims and total claims costs were high due to the broad impact of extreme weather events and a few catastrophic fires.

Thankfully for 2019, we were able to leverage the power of the group to minimize cost increases. We were also able to issue $1.1M in Claims Fund surpluses in 2018 from the 2013 and 2014 terms.

In 2019, to help providers avoid preventable claims, and to mitigate underwriter concerns about how we manage risk, we will encourage providers to adopt basic risk measures and ensure that their building values are up-to-date. The term has started well; our group has grown by 8 providers, adding to our ‘power’ to negotiate premiums for everyone, manage claims costs and mitigate risk.

We still, however, remain committed to our social purpose: guaranteed insurance for all housing providers, regardless of their claims history. The need for this is real in our sector and is not met by private brokers. Just before the holidays, we were contacted by Tolpuddle Housing Cooperative in London, who were given 60 days notice from their private broker that their policy would not be renewed due to two claims. So on January 1, we welcomed Tolpuddle to our group.

Brian Laur will elaborate on this story in his next Managing Risky Business. In the meantime, you can read more the last quarterly update, which featured stories on:

Subscribe to Managing Risky Business   Read previous issues of Managing Risky Business

 

Inexpensive and Easy Protection for Tenants and Providers: Bulk Tenant Insurance

Providers and Service Managers that I’ve spoken to are very interested in our Bulk Tenant Insurance program. That’s because it offers all of the benefits of tenant insurance (property, liability, emergency living expense coverage for tenants; reduced financial and liability exposure for providers) plus it is easy to set up and inexpensive. You don’t have perform onerous paperwork to regularly verify if residents have insurance in buildings where it’s required. Service Managers and providers that have people with portable benefits or rent supplements in private rental units can use it. Supportive housing providers can also use it. Furthermore, it costs the system less money – half of what tenants would pay for individual policies.

While a number of providers and Service Managers have expressed early interest, Suomi Koti of Thunder Bay and Services and Housing in the Province have actually put the program in place. We will be monitoring their experience of the program closely, since they are on opposite ends of the size spectrum, are in different parts of Ontario and serve very different clienteles.

Interested in how bulk tenant insurance could work for you?

Contact Brian Laur       Read more about Bulk Tenant Insurance

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Asset Management

Acting on BCA Data with Capital Repair Investigative Studies

In 2018, Niagara Region asked HSC Technical Services to assist them on a project. The first part of the project seemed fairly consistent with work we’ve done with other Service Managers: 1) Evaluate the condition of the non-profit and cooperative housing stock in their Service Manager area and 2) Develop a picture of the long-term capital needs of their housing stock.

However, the second part of the project was something new and innovative. Niagara’s goal was to evaluate the data and explore the feasibility of a potential capital loan program for providers. So in addition to providing an analysis of essential repairs over multiple years, HSC researched other capital loan programs and assisted NRH with data and insight to support a “made in Niagara” program. To complement this work, HSC delivered training to Niagara’s non-profits and co-ops on the fundamental elements of asset management practices and planning – the training encouraged best practice on everyday concerns such as preventive maintenance, energy conservation and resident engagement.

With operating agreements expiring and new 10-year housing and homelessness plans around the corner, the time to plan for the future of local housing portfolios is now. HSC Technical Services can work with you on developing a similar program.

Contact Jen McMahon, HSC Technical Services Operations Manager       Read more about our Capital Repair Investigative Studies

 

SHARE

Since my last update, HSC concluded its 2018 series of learning events.

Spurring Affordable Development: New Ideas, Tools and Approaches, delivered in partnership with the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association and Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board. Here’s a local media story on the event (photos below in our @HSC section)

View Agenda and Presentations    

 

We also concluded our SHARE webinar series for the year with the City of Kingston’s Director of Housing and Social Services, Sheldon Laidman, discussion on its approach to the portable housing benefit.

Download the Presentation and View the Webinar    

 

Watch for new SHARE events in the second half of 2019!

 

Roadmap to Development: 2019 Regeneration Forum

Are you considering or already planning a new development or regeneration project? Tap into the latest ideas by registering for our upcoming Regeneration Forum.

This year’s event will take place on March 25 and 26 at the Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto. The structure of the conference is brand new, with learning streams focused on planning, design and execution. The first day is focused on hands-on, technical learning, while the second will feature examples of ground-breaking innovation. You will hear from speakers from across North America and be able to network with a wide range of housing practitioners from across Canada.

Register today!

Visit the Conference Website    

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Partnerships

Sector Bank Update

I’m pleased to say that HPC Housing Investment Corporation (HIC) will be closing its first round of funding shortly!

This is an exciting milestone for Canada’s social housing sector. Although the round will be smaller than we’d initially anticipated, with participation limited to providers in British Columbia and Alberta, it will serve as a vital proof-of-concept to the capital markets and will establish the core operations of HIC as a sector-specific lending entity.

HIC has also been reaching out to housing providers across Canada in anticipation of subsequent rounds of lending. Demand from non-profits for long-term, low-cost lending to build and regenerate housing is strong. Currently, there is a pipeline of more than $1B in lending.

Interestingly in Ontario, where the number of non-profit providers is biggest, we are seeing slower uptake than in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta – perhaps because this approach to financing social housing is so new. We are hopeful, however, that over time this will change – as organizations see what’s required and how it works.

Stay up-to-date on developments with HIC by signing up for its email updates! Have a project that you’d like to discuss? Contact me!

Sign Up for HIC Email Updates       Contact Me About Prospective Projects

 

The Social Housing Investment Program Has Gotten Better: Here’s Why

Back in the early Fall, Encasa Financial made a number of changes to its administration of the Social Housing Investment Program, a program in which 800+ housing providers across Ontario participate. Encasa manages the program on behalf of HSC. Since 2014, Derek Ballantyne, the current CMHC Chair, has served as Encasa CEO.

The changes were crucial steps towards making a stronger, sector-focused investment program. My CEO Update back in March included an interview with Derek on the changes. Encasa’s also posted material on their website about the changes and the objectives of their new business model. But the paperwork on the changes was a bit confusing for some providers and involved a lot of forms. I wanted to take a moment to communicate why these changes will benefit us all.

The key thrusts of the changes involved:

  • Improving customer service by bringing this work into Encasa, an organization owned by sector non-profits and staffed by people that know housing and investments rather than third-party, for-profit investment firms.
  • Laying the foundation for sector investment by enabling Encasa to exercise greater control over the holdings of the Social Housing Investment Funds. Encasa had already taken steps towards ensure that investments were socially responsible. But the recent changes open the door to investing in local, housing-specific investments and Ontario municipal bonds. This means dollars don’t leave our sector – they can help support it while delivering strong, stable returns to providers.    
  • Streamlining operations so your investment dollars go further by reducing the involvement of expensive private investment firms and keeping the management fees charged minimal.

In short, the changes are like those that we’ve made to the HSC Group Insurance Program: they keep money in the sector; they improve customer service by simplifying it; and they limit the role of for-profit service providers to what is absolutely essential.

Encasa has not received completed forms for all providers in the investment program. If you haven’t submitted your forms, I’d encourage you to do so as soon as you can! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Encasa’s Client Services Manager, John Osmond, at 1.888.791.6671 ext. 237 or josmond@encasa.ca

Contact John Osmond, Encasa Client Services Manager       Learn More About Encasa

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@HSC

2019-2021 HSC Strategic Plan

How we meet the affordable housing needs of our communities is changing as our sector becomes more data-driven and professionalized. We are more entrepreneurial and reducing our dependence on uneven government funding. Housing organizations are no longer looking just locally for best practices; we are exchanging information and developing solutions at a national level. Here in Ontario, Service Managers are approaching the halfway point of their housing and homelessness plans.

How HSC does its work must evolve in tandem with these developments. So in Fall 2018 we consulted with a cross-section of clients to understand their current and anticipated business needs; their perceptions of HSC; and future opportunities for us to deliver value.

We were gratified to hear that our work is well regarded. Housing providers and Service Managers affirmed a need for the types of ‘bridge the gap’ services that we are now offering under the banner of HSC Business Solutions. They also recognize that today our programs are truly cost-competitive and deliver crucial value-added benefits.

So for 2019-2021, our primary goals are to maintain this competitive edge with innovative products and services so our clients can sustain their assets, increase the supply of affordable housing and house people better.

 

Outreach

Since my last update, we continued our hands-on work in the sector: 

CEO Meetings & Presentations
  • CEO meetings with the HSC, HSC Insurance and Encasa boards; check-in meetings with Service Managers in Elgin St. Thomas, Chatham-Kent, Muskoka, Hamilton; meeting with the provincial Minister and Parliamentary Assistant
  • Attendance at meetings of HSC’s Service Manager Advisory Committee, the Local Housing Corporation Practitioners Forum; Housing Partnership Canada meeting; SHARE Innovation Forum in Thunder Bay
Energy Services
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting in Niagara
  • Webinar with Enbridge on Affordable Housing Incentives
  • Community Champions in Simcoe County, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Dufferin County, Sault Ste. Marie
Insurance & Risk Management
  • Insurance claims meetings with providers in Barrie, Windsor, Ottawa and London
  • Risk management presentations in Peterborough, Wellington County, Cornwall; presentations on tenant insurance in Muskoka, Elgin St. Thomas, York Region
  • Presentation at 2018 ONPHA conference
Asset Management & Renewal
  • Technical Services project meetings with providers in Parry Sound, North Bay, Kawartha Lakes, Toronto, Niagara, Peterborough and Blenheim
  • Meetings with District Municipality of Muskoka, London Middlesex Housing and City of Kawartha Lakes on asset management planning
  • Worked with Northumberland County on operational improvements, facilitated discussion with providers on asset management
  • Asset Planner training for Mainstay Housing, City of Greater Sudbury; discussions with Woodgreen
  • SHARE Innovation Forum in Thunder Bay
  • EOA presentation to Rainy River DSSAB
  • Presentation to the Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario

If you have a project where you think HSC might be able to help, contact me.

 

Recent Photos:

January 2018 CEO Update

 

Comings & Goings

Since my last update, we’ve seen some changes in the sector. We welcomed Doug Ball as Executive Director of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association and said goodbye and thank you to Elisa McFarlane. We welcomed Nick Stewart as the first Executive Director of the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association. We said goodbye to Debbie Mills as the Director of Housing Services at the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board; and to Maryellen MacLellan as the Director of Housing at the City of Brantford.  We welcomed Edward John as the Director of Housing at the City of Hamilton. Congratulations to Adam Sweedland, who moved from serving as the Housing Manager at the City of Hamilton to becoming the new Director of Housing at the City of Brantford.

At HSC, we also saw some changes on the Service Manager front. In late October, Catherine Matheson vacated her board seat as she moved from being General Manager of Community Development, City of Greater Sudbury, to serving as Commissioner of Corporate Services with the Region of Peel. We wish her the best success in her new role. We also said goodbye to Ana Bailão, councillor from the City of Toronto, whose board term concluded on November 30, and welcomed councillor Gord Perks. We also completed a nomination process for most of the Service Manager board positions on our board. We were thrilled with the level of interest  and competition was stiff. On March 31, we will welcome Brian Marks (CAO, Cochrane DSSAB), Sheldon Laidman (Director of Housing and Social Services, City of Kingston), Janice Sheehy (Commissioner of Human Services, Region of Peel) and Michael Duben (CAO, District Municipality of Muskoka).

Our advisory committees also saw some changes. Jeff Barban (Director of Housing, Sault Ste. Marie DSSAB) joined our Service Manager Advisory Committee. To our Energy Stakeholder Advisory Group, we welcomed Jeff Yeo (Director of Facilities & Support Services, District Municipality of Muskoka), Ben Reynolds (Director of Infrastructure, Kenora DSB), Norm Turner (Director, Asset Management, London-Middlesex Housing Corporation) and Riswan Zaeem (Manager of Capital Assets, Victoria Park Community Homes). We also welcomed Cameron Banach (Capital Works Manager, Niagara Regional Housing) to the Energy group, who in turn welcomed all of us at an in-person meeting he hosted in September (see pictures).

Here at HSC, we welcomed Paul Dancy (Senior Financial Accountant) and Chrysta Collens (Communications Advisor), said goodbye to Margaret Luk (HR Consultant). We also said ‘see you later’ to Stefanie Millon (Senior Communications Advisor) and Shikha Seghal (Senior Financial Accountant), who are both now on maternity leave, and Doreen Katchadourian (Manager, Asset Management), who has now completed her secondment and returned to her home position at York Region.

We also had some changes in roles here, primarily driven by the formation of our HSC Business Solutions unit, which combines staff formerly with our asset management and IT groups. Judy Lightbound will make this her exclusive focus and lead up this team as Chief Business Development Officer and Executive Lead for its consulting projects. Sarah Baker is now Chief Operating Officer. She will provide oversight on Technical Services and Asset Planner departments in addition to continuing as the lead on Energy (client services), communications, marketing and strategy. Congratulations to Judy and Sarah on their new roles!


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