- Shape the Future of Housing: An invitation to housing providers to apply to join the HSC Board of Directors.
- Energy Services Update: How we’ve given voice to sector priorities in the past year plus highlights from our last issue of Energy Matters.
- Insurance Updates: A recap on renewals and program improvements; changes to tenant insurance premiums; and the best of our last issue of Managing Risky Business.
- Asset & Business Solutions Update: COVID-19 and the birth of virtual consultations; the benefits of integrated asset management solutions; and capital projects we managed in 2020.
- Partnerships: The Community Housing Transformation Centre has dollars and wants to connect with you; lessons learned on building mixed-model housing from Housing Partnership Canada; and an update from Encasa Financial.
- Comings and Goings: Sector people on the move.
Shape the Future of Housing by Joining the HSC Board
HSC is seeking nominations from professionals from non-profit and local housing corporations who wish to help shape our services and role in the sector.
HSC board members serve a four-year term (April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2025). Ours is a skill-based board; successful candidates will possess key competencies to meet our business needs.
Further information and the nomination form are available on our website. Completed packages are due January 29, 2021.
Giving voice to sector priorities
In 2020 HSC’s Energy Services team pursued a number of opportunities to help shape utility programs for our sector, ensuring that they meet housing provider needs. Working with input from our Stakeholder Advisory Group, our team:
- Contributed to the design of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Sustainable Affordable Housing Program
- Provided input on natural gas and electricity incentive programs, as a participant in Ontario Energy Board consultations and by serving on the Independent Electricity System Operator Energy Affordability Program Working Group
- Submitted a letter to the Province that offered guidance on future Save ON Energy programs
Energy Matters Newsletter
The December issue of Energy Matters will be coming out shortly. Here are some highlights from September’s issue:
- OCH Goes Prefabricated with Deep Energy Townhome Retrofit
- Utility Changes Amid Covid-19: Pricing, Usage Patterns and Incentive Programs
- Engaging Residents on Energy Conservation – Posters for Download
Energy Matters comes out quarterly. It features news on energy-related solutions, markets, policy, and funding affecting our sector as well as success stories and case studies to inform your organization’s conservation efforts.
The Power of the Group Prevails
For the 2020-21 term, we are pleased to be able to offer our group casualty and Directors & Officers liability coverage without the introduction of a communicable disease exclusion. Having such an exclusion would have left providers in our group exposed to COVID-19 related claims without protection. We owe thanks to our group of 600+ providers since negotiations were strengthened by the results of a survey HSC conducted and the 100% response rate we got.
Insurance costs, however, did increase moderately for providers as the global demand for insurance continued to outstrip supply. In addition, underwriters were seeking to recoup past losses due to climate change and future losses projected for COVID (estimated at $107 billion). That said, HSC’s insurance program continued to offer competitive rates to those offered by for-profit brokers as well as guaranteed coverage for all housing providers.
Finally, we ushered in several improvements to the group program this year. The changes included transitioning to electronic payments; bringing claims payments in-house to reduce timelines for payouts; introducing claims notifications so providers know what’s happening with their claim and what to expect next; and overhauling our property and liability claims codes so we can provide you with a better picture on improving our collective performance and controlling premium costs.
Tenant Insurance Premiums Are Changing: Here’s Why
The same cost pressures that have affected our group insurance program have also impacted our tenant insurance program. However in addition to the COVID-19 claims, there’s another program-specific factor for the increase: the number and cost of claims to the program have steadily grown relative to the premiums that are paid out (its loss ratio has increased). Thankfully, the impact is modest with most residents seeing an increase of less than $2/month. The increase will come into effect February 2, 2021.If you order brochures from HSC Insurance, please be sure to request copies with the updated pricing.
Tenant insurance continues to make sense for providers: in addition to the discount you receive on your insurance bill, it helps:
- Control provider premiums because claims costs can be re-couped from the tenant’s insurer — if a tenant is negligent in causing a loss
- Protect tenants if their actions injure other tenants or damage a provider’s property
- Cover temporary living expenses and the cost damaged property should there be a major fire or flood
Managing Risky Business Newsletter
In late November, our latest issue of Managing Risky Business came out. Highlights from the newsletter include:
- Looking Back, Looking Ahead: A retrospective look at the past year and what is ahead for our group and the program in 2021
- Managing Winter Risk: Links to articles with general maintenance tips; holiday safety tips; and sample wording for snow clearing contracts
- One-Stop Shopping for DSSABs: Details on our program for DSSABs
Managing Risky Business comes out quarterly and includes stories on claims trends, risk management resources and new products and services.
Asset & Business Solutions
HSC Business Solutions and COVID-19
In one of my previous newsletters, Judy Lightbound talked about how her Business Solutions team has enjoyed providing Service Managers with extra help when they need it.
COVID-19 definitely proved to be one such moment! The Business Solutions unit saw a dramatic surge in interest. They were also repeatedly called upon to develop methods to enable Service Managers to continue some of their strategic work with housing providers – consultations and stakeholder interviews, in particular.
Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, and Judy’s team moved quickly to find a solution. While many organizations made use of videoconferencing to hold meetings during COVID, HSC’s Business Solutions team upped the game by developing a model that mirrors the collaborative and interactive sessions you’d have face-to-face – using breakout rooms, polling and discussion groups,
Practice makes perfect. And the team got plenty of practice conducting virtual consultations and interviews with both non-profit and LHC boards. In total, they facilitated 22 virtual consultation sessions and another 22 virtual stakeholder interviews since April.
So if you have community or stakeholder consultation that you’ve put on hold due to COVID, we’d be happy to help you move forward with it.
One-Stop Shopping for Asset Management Projects
Over the course of the past two years the work of our Tech Services unit has become increasingly integrated with that of HSC’s Business Solutions. So instead of just offering standalone Building Condition Assessments, for example, we can deliver a comprehensive Asset Management or Social Housing Master Plans. This offers several benefits, including:
- Cost savings: By combining projects, clients pay less than they would if the jobs were completed separately or by different companies
- Coordination and communications: Sometimes hiring different vendors to do different elements of a project can present issues because they don’t directly ‘speak’ to each other
- By the sector, for the sector: Like community housing providers and Service Managers, HSC is a non-profit that’s embedded in the sector. Our goal is to offer objective advice and to price our services fairly. We see ourselves as part of your staff, offering extra capacity when you need it
For more information on how we can help you, email Judy Lightbound about your project.
Capital Projects Continue During Pandemic
While housing provider capital projects that HSC Technical Services have been working on momentarily paused in the Spring, our project managers were at work and on site for the greater part of 2020. The 39 active projects this year included:
- New builds in Bruce County and Parry Sound
- Extensive exterior repair projects for several co-ops and non-profits
- Several portfolio-wide BCA projects and AssetPlanner updates for multiple Service Managers in conjunction with HSC Business Solutions (see story above)
Learn about Funding and Resources from Community Housing Transformation Centre
The Community Housing Transformation Centre was created as a result of a coalition of Canadian housing organizations, including HSC, ONPHA and CHF Canada. It has three major funds to spark local projects, sector-wide innovations and community-based tenant initiatives. The Centre has also created a resource centre with an extensive repository of tools.
To assist the Centre in helping your organization, it wants to keep you up to date on what it has available and to hear your feedback on its initiatives. All you need to do to start the conversation is to click the link below and press send on the email that pops up, authorizing the HSC to share your basic contact information with the Centre. It’s simple and only takes a moment!
Investment Update from Encasa Financial
Encasa’s Q3 market commentary is available on its website. In addition, the second issue of Encasa Express, a newsletter for housing providers in the Social Housing Investment Program, will be available shortly. To view the market commentary and the stories that will appear in the newsletter when it becomes available, visit the news and insights section of the Encasa website.
Encasa Advisory Group: A New Feedback Loop in 2020
In 2020, HSC established an Encasa advisory group to offer a provider perspective into Encasa’s product and service offerings – and to help them better meet the needs of Ontario housing providers.
The group is made up of individuals with a diverse range of perspectives – housing provider board members and staff; organizations both large and small; and representation from multiple regions across Ontario. They also have different perspectives on investments.
The group has had a promising start. In the three meetings that have occurred so far, it’s provided helpful insight and suggestions on a range of items, including how to improve investor awareness and education. We are looking forward to their contributions in 2021 to make the investment program even better.
Looking to Develop Mixed Model Housing?
Housing Partnership Canada (HPC) has just issued a new research study that looks at 10 mixed model projects in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Mixed model housing isn’t just about a range of incomes – it encompasses mixing tenure, amenities and common spaces. It’s also a central part of Canada’s 10 year, +$55 billion National Housing Strategy.
The study examines:
- Different types of mixed model approaches
- The partnerships required to lift projects off the ground
- Navigating financing and regulatory challenges
- Operating mixed model developments
The paper serves as a great introduction to mixed-model development. As such, it’s important reading for housing providers and their boards; politicians with an interest in affordable housing and municipal decision-makers.
Comings & Goings
It’s with great sadness that we note the death of two sector professionals: Peggy Fulton (General Manager, Cornwall & Area Housing) and Brent Schwieg, (Director of Governance and Strategy, Ottawa Community Housing). As active participants of the HSC-hosted Independent Local Housing Corporation (LHC) Forum, both Peggy and Brent were well known to HSC staff and their LHC counterparts. We send our condolences to their respective families and their former colleagues who are grieving their loss.
At HSC, we are also saying goodbye to Clinton Reid and Brian Laur in the coming days. Both are long time HSC staff and we will miss their good cheer and sunny dispositions. Clinton will be moving to other opportunities in the housing sector while Brian is preparing to do a lot of fishing and bike-riding. We also recently welcomed Jenny Gloria, our new Senior Manager of Insurance and Risk. Jenny’s been in the insurance industry for the past 18 years and like Brian, brings a risk management lens to our program.
At Gloucester Housing in Ottawa, we welcome Anne Marie Mason as new Executive Director, who is taking over from acting ED, Céline Carrière. We’re also welcoming some new faces to our advisory groups. Rebecca Carman (Housing Services Manager, Northumberland County) and Beth Storti (Manager of Community Development, Peel Region) have joined our Service Manager Advisory Committee; and Carmen Cousineau (Interim General Manager, Cornwall & Area Housing) is new to the LHC Forum. Finally, we’d like to offer congratulations and good luck to Janice Sheehy; she’s taken on the role of Acting General Manager of Peel Living in addition to serving as Peel Region Commissioner of Social Services and an HSC Board Member.