2017 Year in Review
2017 has brought many positive achievements that reflect OCHC’s commitment to providing quality housing and service excellence. We continue to make progress on many initiatives to improve the living environments and the services we provide to the approximately 32,000 tenants who call OCH home. The information that follows highlights some of our accomplishments and how they are helping to better meet the needs of OCH tenants.
To access the full version of the 2017 annual report, click this link: OCH 2017 Annual Report
- GOAL 1 – Nuture Healthy, Safe and Inclusive Communities
- GOAL 2: Deliver Quality Services to Every Tenant, Every Home
- GOAL 3: Innovate to Meet Housing and Financial Needs
- Goal 4: Foster an organizational culture of leadership, accountability and continuous improvement
- Housing is a key determinant of health
- Positive social environments are critical to successful tenancies
- Tenants must feel safe, proud and part of the broader community
- OCHC relies on effective partnerships to build communities
- Partners play a vital role in OCHC’s need to balance resources with growing tenant needs
- Working with partners improves services to tenants
Most OCHC tenants live within Ottawa’s greenbelt in homes clustered as townhome complexes and apartments that integrate with broader neighbourhoods.
The people who make up OCHC communities come from many backgrounds and life experiences. What is common is that these people face financial struggles in finding a healthy and safe place to call home. OCHC provides a range of housing solutions based on the requirements of tenants.
Clients include single-parent families, adults with disabilities, families, senior citizens on fixed income and new arrivals to Canada. For many tenants, OCHC plays a critical role as a liaison to other support services for tenants to establish and maintain successful tenancies.
OCHC made important advancements to its long-term commitment to tenant engagement and community-building in 2017. OCHC established a new Community Engagement Policy in September 2017. The policy commits to appropriate and timely tenant participation in setting OCHC direction and in consulting on decisions that affect OCHC communities. The policy also confirms that OCHC will invest in developing tenant capacity and opportunities to build positive and inclusive community participation. OCHC has been applying the policy through specific community engagement plans in 2017.
OCHC also completed an innovative pilot project in 2017 to help in measuring and interpreting community engagement levels. The tool is called the Community Index of Engagement Levels (CIEL). After successful testing of the tool in eight pilot communities, the senior leadership approved full implementation of CIEL in 2018. CIEL results will be used to assist in building community development plans, to provide feedback and business intelligence on community engagement levels, and to better align community development investments to OCHC evolving needs.
There is growing societal awareness and acceptance of mental health and the importance of promoting individual and community well-being. The OCHC environmental scan in 2015 identified mental health needs in OCHC communities as a strategic priority, and it forecasted a continuing increase in the number of tenants that would require mental health support.
In 2017, OCHC continued to provide Mental Health First Aid training through the Mental Health Commission of Canada to front-line employees and OCHC tenant leaders. The course provides a better understanding of mental health illnesses by increasing the awareness of signs and symptoms, decreasing stigma and increasing confidence to interact with and provide help to tenants who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Over 90% of front-line employees and nine tenant leaders have completed the training since OCHC introduced it in 2016.
The program launched in November 2015 celebrates current and former tenants who overcame hardship and became role models and often, local and international leaders. It offers a platform for Ambassadors to tell their stories, inspire and demystify the unfair stigma associated with people living in community housing, here and around the world.
In 2017, the Tenant Ambassadors shared their life story, their achievements, their experiences and their resilience with OCHC and the broader community. Many have also won awards for their work in the communities.
Meet our Tenant Ambassadors:
Ibrahim Musa is the founder of the Cuts for Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers free haircuts to children in low-income communities. In 2017, Ibrahim was awarded a new “Inspiration Award” at the Amazing People Gala, and the Mayor’s City Builder Award.
Christo Bilukidi is a former NFL football player (Raiders, Bengals, and Ravens) who became an entrepreneur. He is now the proud owner of Idlewood, a successful tailored suit business and the new Director of Football Operations at the Sports Training Academy.
Christo is leading football camps and leadership camps, free of charge, for youth in low-income communities.He continues to take on public speaking opportunities to help empower as many young people as possible. Christo was awarded the Mayor’s City Builder Award in 2017.
Stefan Keyes, a local news anchor at CTV, is an avid advocate for the arts in Ottawa. Singer and actor, he was also seen in the popular TV series Designated Survivor. He is involved in several non-profit initiatives for the arts and youth. As an Ambassador, Stefan participated in many events including a very successful art camp held during the 2017 March Break.
He has inspired many children and adults and proven that “Your future is not defined by where you live, but by who you are and who you want to become.” Stefan was a recipient of a 2017 Volunteer Award given by Member of Provincial Parliament Yasir Naqvi.
Carissa Davis is an incredible young single mom who, years ago, freed herself and her child from an unsafe situation. After finding a home with Ottawa Community Housing, she became very engaged in her community. She searched and found inspiring ways to take charge and turn her life around. She acquired the skills necessary to better her life and now is a fierce advocate that gives back to her community.
“I was raised middle class, and it was all I had known until that point,” said Carissa. “What I realized was that it doesn’t matter what background you come from, people don’t always know there might be a point in their life that they too, can be a cheque away from needing social housing.”
Carissa firmly believes that whatever your social background or your social issues are, everyone is capable of awakening and uniting. Carissa was nominated as one of the 40 Amazing people at the 2016 Amazing People Gala.
The Tenant Ambassador Program plans to add new ambassadors from across the housing sector in the future.
The Community Safety Services unit of OCHC plays an active role in community support and safety, particularly in day-to-day community situations or disruptions. This team is known in OCHC communities for its regular proactive patrols, general presence and response to community incidents.
Many of these situations do not necessarily require a response from the Ottawa Police Service. For the second consecutive year, parking and noise issues were the most frequent call types. Community Safety Workers responded to these categories of complaints three times more often than any other type of safety-related call for service.Overall, Community Safety Services was proactively engaged in OCHC communities in 2017. Reactive responses, those where workers were dispatched to respond to a call, went down by 5% from 2016 while proactive responses, those allowing for early intervention and prevention, went up by 50%.
To maximize the benefit from specialized programs and services available in the broader community, OCHC works with over 100 organizations, agencies and groups to help tenants meet their individual needs and make their communities healthier places to live. These partnerships, which range from on-site services (e.g. Community Houses, Aging in Place) to referral agreements to the lease of entire OCHC buildings, have led to numerous programs and services aimed at meeting the diverse and changing needs of OCHC tenants and communities.
Each year, OCHC recognizes one of its community partners for having a unique and positive impact in an OCHC community and the lives of tenants.
At the Partners Forum on December 1, 2017, OCHC recognized the Ottawa School of Art for the role that it played in building inclusive and vibrant communities through the completion of three large murals.
The murals were created in public spaces within specific OCHC communities. The colourful and imaginative art recognizes the diversity, respect and positivity of OCHC communities, while creating a sense of belonging.
Tenant communities were engaged throughout the projects from the planning and designing to the painting of the murals.
Every year since 2009, OCHC has been offering OCHC communities opportunities to get involved and enhance community pride of place through the Community Capital Fund. OCHC staff work with tenant groups to apply for funding for various capital projects to beautify and bring communities together.
In 2017, OCHC approved $120,000 to complete 47 tenant-driven projects across OCHC. Some of the successful projects included the installation of gardening sheds, upgrades to several lounges and updates to a number of community kitchens.
It was another successful year for OCHC’s two volunteer engagement programs.
The Corporate Volunteer Program saw partners provide community volunteers, and often funds, to take on projects that improve the quality of life and provide pride of place to tenants. Volunteers contributed to beautification projects such as painting common areas, fences and building facades, planting gardens and trees and installing benches.
OCHC’s Employee Volunteer Program is now in its third year. This program gives employees a chance to meet and engage in positive interactions with tenants, and create meaningful experiences that lead to overall job satisfaction. In 2017, 120 staff were involved in seven projects within OCHC communities and worked with partners such as the Ottawa Food Bank, HOPE Volleyball and the Caring and Sharing Exchange.
Tenants were engaged in the planning and implementation of the projects that improved their shared spaces, increasing their sense of belonging and pride in their homes.
Read More: Volunteer with OCH
The Ottawa Community Housing Foundation supports OCHC in nurturing safe and healthy communities through its commitment to helping tenants achieve personal success through education, employment and community engagement.
- Focus resources on providing quality and responsive services to tenants
- Smart, diligent and lean customer-centred business model
- Strengthen understanding of client needs
- Growing needs for supports to address increasing complexity of vulnerable populations in housing
- Deploy new technology solutions to streamline and modernize service delivery
Approximately 32,000 people live in OCHC communities. OCHC recognizes that a positive tenant experience is critical to meeting its mandate.
OCHC has continued to build its service model to ensure that quality services are provided to tenants related to lease and rental coordination, safety, maintenance and pest treatment services.
It has also been making significant investments in providing easier, more accessible options for tenants through an expanded call centre model and greater access to low-cost internet services through local providers.
OCHC is the principal provider of community housing in Ottawa. OCHC maintains approximately two-thirds of community housing in the City of Ottawa. The intake share averaged 70.9% over the last five years.
The majority of intake applicants have “priority” status. Often, priority applicants require additional services and support given that they may have been homeless, are fleeing domestic violence or have mental health and addictions challenges. Consistent with previous years, approximately two-thirds of new OCHC tenants in 2017 identified as having priority status.
Given the significant number of tenants with higher needs and complex histories, OCHC continued to engage with partner organizations in 2017 to assess and explore the expansion of on-site support services to tenants within OCHC apartment communities. It is believed that if there were more supports in the area of building safety, care coordination, peer-led initiatives, and community building, demands on emergency services and hospitals could be reduced. OCHC continues to support partners who seek funding for a pilot project in two of its apartment communities.
The Ottawa Social Housing Registry oversees the application process for community housing in Ottawa. It works closely with approximately 50 housing providers to coordinate placements of people in need of community housing.
A key measure of OCHC success in delivering quality service is its ability to ensure high tenant occupancy across its portfolio and provide housing to those most in need.
OCHC manages approximately 15,000 homes in Ottawa. In 2017, it maintained an average occupancy rate of 98.6%.
The occupancy rate continues to exceed the overall occupancy rate of rental properties in the City of Ottawa according to data provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The high demand for community housing in Ottawa and an extensive waiting list ensure that when homes do become available at OCHC, there are applicants ready to consider an offer.
In 2017, OCHC’s time to turn over a vacant home to a new tenant was on average within 51.5 days.
OCHC has used a dedicated call centre for many years. The centre responds to safety, maintenance and other general service requests. It has consistently met high standards in its field for quick response time, minimal call abandonment rates and high client satisfaction. The OCHC Call Centre is frequently a ‘must-stop’ visit of other housing providers on best practice tours.
Building on the call centre model, OCHC expanded on the concept of one-stop client service by introducing its ONEnumber phone service in satellite offices in March 2017.
Through ONEnumber, call centre services are expanded to include lease support, rental payments and other tenant inquiries that had been previously provided through multiple points of contact. Prior to ONEnumber, 90% of these types of calls ended in a voice mail message for staff in the satellite office. OCHC recognized that this priority service improvement was needed, based on the results of a corporate Tenant Survey in 2015. The ONEnumber system aligns with the business processes used in the main call centre and allows OCHC to track the number, types and status of service calls. This all contributes to delivering improved services consistent with the overall call centre approach.
OCHC drove this project using the Lean methodology. ONEnumber was the first Lean project at OCHC. It engaged front line workers to conceptualize, streamline and implement this new Lean business process improvement.
OCHC committed to improving its business process for giving trades contractors access to OCHC properties in 2017, knowing that there were significant and ongoing issues and requests for contractor access had surpassed 9,000 in 2016. Contractor access problems were reducing tenant satisfaction and increasing OCHC costs.
The project used the Lean methodology that OCHC had introduced in 2016. A team of front-line workers reviewed and identified process improvements to contractor access, and then piloted a new streamlined approach. The pilot produced a positive outcome by reducing contractor access problems by 70%. OCHC will expand the process to include all contractor access in 2018.
OCHC uses its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to identify, treat and reduce the presence of bed bugs and cockroaches. IPM is an industry-leading model that emphasizes monitoring, education, prevention and early response. OCHC has a specialized team that delivers these services. IPM relies heavily on tenant participation.
The demand for IPM treatments has stabilized since it was introduced in 2016. In 2017, 99.3% of pest work orders were completed within priority objectives. In fact, the performance exceeded the objective by 9.3%.
OCHC has made progress in its proactive efforts to treat pests. Beyond the work it does in response to individual needs for pest treatment, it has implemented broader strategies to target, treat and monitor pest management in twelve specific OCHC properties.
Providing reliable elevator services to tenants in OCHC buildings is critical. For tenants who are elderly or who have mobility challenges, these services are essential. With the exception of elevators in federal government buildings, OCHC maintains the largest elevator fleet in the City of Ottawa.
Keeping the elevators operating efficiently is a significant investment. In 2017, OCHC continued its multi-year plan to improve its aging fleet and has now upgraded 50% of its elevators. Upgrades focus on improved tenant experience through improved availability and reliability. Technology has been added that remotely monitors elevator performance, identifies performance issues and improves OCHC capacity to respond and communicate elevator malfunctions to tenants.
Keeping its buildings safe from fire is a priority for OCHC. In 2016, OCHC consolidated resources and planning of fire safety equipment, services, training, maintenance and communication, and created its Fire Life Safety(FLS) Program. The FLS Program aligns very well with the increasingly stringent standards identified in the Ontario Fire Code where 200 technical changes were made.
Through the program, OCHC conducted upgrades and retrofits to its buildings and provided regular operational inspections to ensure compliancy with the Ontario Fire Code. OCHC invested approximately $8M in FLS retrofits in 2017. An additional $2.8M in spending was funded through a separate government program, the Social Housing Improvement Program.
The legislative changes also established mandatory training for FLS that has been delivered to front-line employees in 2017. Some of the replacement work undertaken in 2017 included:
In partnership with Ottawa Fire Services, OCHC has developed a Fire Safety Plan template that has been recognized and made available as a template for other social and affordable housing providers in Ontario.
Maintenance service requests routinely identify dripping taps, blocked toilets, window screen replacements, furnace problems and the many other typical repairs needed in any home.
OCHC prioritized all work orders against maintenance service standards and completed repairs with an overall 92% on-time service delivery result in 2017. This exceeded the target by 2%. This is the second consecutive year of strong maintenance service delivery.
The 2017 result is even more impressive, given that there was a significant level of emergency requests for maintenance in Q4 for service due to extreme weather.
In 2017, OCH delivered on-time maintenance service 92% of the time.
- Meeting housing needs with fiscal constraints
- Pursuing innovative solutions and alternative partnerships
- Extracting and leveraging portfolio value
- Renewing an aging portfolio
- Future capital investment
The housing stock of OCHC continues to age. Buildings are on average 48 years old, and continuing investment is being made to ensure that homes are maintained in a good state of repair.
Through the Portfolio Management Framework (PMF), OCHC explored how to best leverage the value of OCHC assets to address capital investment shortfalls. As part of the PMF, guiding principles and targets have been created to provide guidance for future divestitures of properties and for acquisitions of land. The PMF has significantly assisted OCHC in positioning itself to respond to opportunities for potential growth and redevelopment.
In 2017, 40 properties were identified for divestiture to generate $12M for the Community Reinvestment Fund.
In compliance with the Ontario Business Corporations Act, Ernst and Young (the appointed auditors for OCHC) completed an audit of financial statements for the period January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017. Audit results for 2017 have been independently submitted to the Shareholder and Service Manager.
At the end of Q4 2017, expenditures stood at $172.5M or 88% of the annual budget.
Spending was consistent with projections. The budget variance of 12% is largely attributed to the Capital and Community Reinvestment Funds where a number of multi-year capital projects will be completed in 2018.
Other financial highlights of 2017 include:
- The unqualified audit opinion confirmed that the 2017 financial statements are fair, accurate and consistent.
- OCHC ended the year with reserve balances of $72.4M that support strategic goals and the approach to renew the OCHC portfolio to enable the maintenance of housing over the long-term.
- OCHC achieved a healthy financial outcome, which resulted in an additional $484,000 contribution to the Operating Reserve, as well as a contribution of $865,000 to the Green Fund to support green initiatives.
One interesting initiative completed in 2017 was the implementation of digital payment of vendor invoices. This improved the financial business processes by using the financial system’s ability to transfer funds electronically. The system has been very successful in eliminating manual steps and paperwork to process invoices for goods and services.
The OCHC Board of Directors approved the Integrity Policy in March 2017. It established oversight and general direction regarding claims of fraud, waste or misuse of OCHC assets. With the approval of the policy, OCHC developed and implemented a procedure to receive and respond to claims. It also created a dedicated telephone line and an online portal for anonymous reporting of potential fraud, waste and misuse of OCHC assets.
The new procedure did not identify corporate risk related to fraud, waste or misuse of OCHC assets in 2017. OCHC received 60 claims during this period, mostly registered against tenants for possible violations of lease agreements (largely alleging inaccurate household composition). While there were four claims that were founded, none of the founded claims identified direct financial loss to OCHC.
Tenant rent made up 43% of OCHC’s annual operating budget last year. Ensuring that tenants meet their financial responsibilities is critical.
Following an internal study of tenant debt, OCHC developed a new Tenant Financial Responsibility Policy that was approved by the Board of Directors in November 2017. This policy ensures a values-based, consistent and effective approach to minimize debt and support tenant financial responsibility. It also represents an evolution toward preventative support, early intervention and personal contact to reduce debt. OCHC is committed to working with tenants to exercise reasonable and legal options to resolve debt while keeping tenants housed.
The procedures and tools to guide the implementation of the policy will be completed in 2018 along with measurement and evaluation of results.
On May 18, 2017, OCHC, in partnership with the City of Ottawa and le Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario, announced the acquisition of a 7.26-acre development site at 933 Gladstone Avenue. This acquisition along the Queensway corridor supports OCHC’s primary goal to provide safe and affordable homes for years to come. It is a step forward in enabling OCHC to improve, modernize and renew its portfolio.
Currently known as Gladstone Village, this multimillion-dollar site will be developed with the support and collaboration of key partners. The site proposes to offer an inclusive and vibrant community hub comprised of mixed-income housing, retail, commercial and green spaces, as well as a French language public school. The Village will be steps away from the Gladstone light rail transit station on the Trillium Line.
As part of the overall portfolio renewal strategy to enable OCHC to meet housing needs and provide homes for the future, the Corporation brought forward a proposal to the City of Ottawa to redevelop Rochester Heights. This community of approximately 100 townhomes has reached the end of its service life. In phase 1 of the project, OCHC’s proposal includes the demolition of 26 townhomes to be replaced with an anticipated 8-storey L-shaped apartment building with 148 mixed-composition affordable homes.
The rehousing team has been working with tenants to ensure that those requiring rehousing were provided support and alternate housing options within OCHC’s portfolio.
The Rochester Heights redevelopment project was awarded $11M in funds from Action Ottawa, a program set up to distribute funds from the shared federal-provincial Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario Program. Currently, substantial completion of the project is aimed for the spring of 2020.
The Ashgrove community prepared for an expansion in 2017, following thorough consultation with the community. The project, a mix of townhomes and triplexes, will offer an additional 16 homes with barrier-free features, such as wider doorways for wheelchair access.
Staff worked with an arborist to replace and add more trees that were lost as a result of the build, and to maintain a sense of privacy for the immediate neighbours. The project will include a solar array on the roof of the townhomes aimed at offsetting the energy consumption from the exterior lights in the community.
The Ashgrove expansion was awarded $2.4M from the shared federal-provincial Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario Program’s capital funding. OCHC will contribute an additional $2.6M toward the construction of these new homes.
The build represents smart growth. It recognizes the need for more affordable housing stock while using space within the existing community. Construction is expected to be completed in 2018.
The construction and expansion of the Carlington Community Health Centre by OCHC broke ground in the spring of 2017. The project, estimated at $18M, is the result of a collaborative partnership with the Carlington Community Health Centre (CCHC) and OCHC, one of the first of this nature in Ottawa.
Through this innovative approach of community partnership, both organizations came together with the same objectives; keep senior citizens in their homes by providing on-site access to medical care and support services, therefore delaying their need to enter a long-term care facility and hospitals.
This new build will see the expansion of the current health clinic and the addition of 42 new residential apartments for seniors, including 12 barrier-free, and 30 visitable homes.
The Carlington Community Health Hub expansion was awarded $4.6M from the shared federal-provincial Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario Program’s capital funding and the City of Ottawa’s 2015 Action Ottawa. OCHC will contribute an additional $5.1M toward the construction of these new homes, and CCHC will contribute the remaining $8M.
The responsibility for the property at 140 Den Haag located in the east end of the City was transferred to OCHC in May 2017.
The building, also known as Den Haag, is comprised of 74 homes: a mix of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom homes in a
2-elevator building with multi-level 4-bedroom townhouses at ground level. There are seven accessible 1-bedroom homes and one 4-bedroom accessible home.
This acquisition allows OCHC to continue to meet tenants’ needs and to renew the OCHC portfolio to provide safe and affordable housing for years to come.
In 2017, OCHC saw one of the largest capital investments in its history with an overall value of $57.2M. There were 221 major construction projects that made up the base Capital Works Program.
Above the core Capital Works Program, there were two new government programs introduced in 2017 that provided an additional $20.3M (see descriptions below). This funding was used for projects related to Ontario’s climate change strategy and for other urgent capital repair needs identified through the government program.
The Capital Works Program, and the additional funded initiatives, focused on critical infrastructure repair of OCHC properties including roofing, paving, building system replacements, elevator upgrades, fire safety system renewals, cladding and restoration, etc. One of the provincial program’s funding focused on greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, targeting mechanical system upgrades and building envelopes.
Ninety-eight percent of the 2017 core Capital Works Program was under contract by year-end. All identified projects are on track to be completed within the 18-month delivery window for the Capital Works Program.
Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP)
OCHC was the recipient of this provincial funding program, a commitment to Ontario’s climate change strategy to support energy retrofits in large, social housing highrise buildings. The improvements have positively impacted the living environment for residents, reduced greenhouse emissions and have generated annual utility cost savings of approximately $250,000.
Social Housing Improvement Program (SHIP)
This capital program provides funding from all levels of government to improve and preserve the quality of social housing and ensure its long-term physical sustainability. It responds to the urgent capital repair needs of existing social housing stock, improving energy efficiency in social housing stock and delivering positive impacts to social housing residents at the earliest possible times. OCHC has focused these funds on fire and life safety systems, structural restoration, and window and door replacement. SHIP projects will be completed in a two-year period.
OCHC has continued its commitment to the environment through its long-term green strategy called the Eco2 Plan. The strategy aims to reduce adverse impacts on the environment while contributing positively to the living environment of tenants and generating savings where this is possible.
The strategy puts a heavy emphasis on changing people’s attitude and behaviours including being more aware and engaged in reducing, reusing and recycling material that may before have been destined for the landfill.
While there continue to be ongoing efforts to promote green practices with employees and tenants, there were two more innovative pilots conducted in 2017 in OCHC communities, the Tenant Engagement Pilot and the Waste and Recycling Pilot.
The City of Ottawa provided $70,000 of funding through its Energy Evolution Catalyst Projects Program for the Tenant Engagement Pilot. The pilot is assessing the impact on tenant levels of energy consumption by installing real-time displays and monitoring systems in the lobbies of four OCHC buildings. OCHC installed programmable thermostats and LED lights in tenants’ homes, and conducted tenant education on how to use the features of the system to make their energy-use choices. The pilot will continue in 2018 to determine if this approach will produce and sustain energy-conscious behaviour.
The Waste and Recycling Pilot was conducted to assess the impact that education and improved recycling infrastructure would have on tenant efforts to recycle and divert household waste. Eleven OCHC communities were selected for the pilot. Physical upgrades were made in the recycling areas including industrial cleaning, repainting and adding user-friendly signage. Communications, education and promotional activities were conducted with tenants. Overall, the pilot confirmed that positively affecting tenant waste diversion behaviour requires time and effort. Over the course of the pilot, a notable improvement in green bin participation was made, although recycling behaviour did not change significantly. OCHC will continue to work with tenants to improve recycling and green bin participation rates.
In partnership with SPARQ Systems, a technology company affiliated with Queen’s University Innovation Centre and with Hydro Ottawa, OCHC’s Regina Lane community now has one of Canada’s largest array of solar panels in social housing.
A total of 97.5 square meters of solar panels were installed on the roofs of 32 townhomes in Regina Lane. This represents roughly the size of five tennis courts.
The technology used on this site will help inform the future of renewable energy. Construction began in October 2017 and was completed in March 2018.
OCHC provided the site and upgraded the roofs five years ahead of schedule to make way for the panels. The 640 solar panels now produce 200,000 kWh annually. This is enough to power 12 homes. It will generate $40,000 in revenue for OCHC over the next 20 years.
As part of a building renovation at 721 Chapel Street in 2017, OCHC implemented an innovative approach that not only produced project savings but had positive environmental impacts. This building was scheduled to have all of its 108 windows and balcony doors replaced given their significant inefficiency.
After studying the condition and performance of the windows and doors, OCHC decided to reuse rather than replace. This would keep demolition material out of the landfill, reduce the inconvenience to the tenants and reduce overall project costs.
During the project, OCHC overcame a number of challenges as it repaired the existing windows. At one point, it could not source specific parts for the windows. OCHC worked with other suppliers to replicate these parts using 3D printer technology. The project was completed and increased window efficiency by 50% to 70%, close to what would have been achieved with the installation of new windows and doors.
- Strategic focus and effective governance
- Business intelligence and results-based management
- Building organizational culture
- Human resources management
- Changing profile of the modern worker and of work environment
- Leveraging technology
- Lean and effective business processes
- Ensuring effective media and public relations
In 2017, OCHC completed its second year of operations under its current 10-year strategic plan.
The strategic plan looks to use stronger governance, management systems and innovation to ensure that OCHC is able to build and maintain the housing portfolio, deliver quality tenant services and support healthy communities.
Investing in the organization’s culture, employees and technology are critical elements of the strategy.
OCHC recognizes that it is part of a large community housing ecosystem and that it must learn, share and partner to build capacity and play a leadership role in this critical work.
There was a tremendous validation of OCHC’s efforts when its industry peers and partners recognized OCHC on a number of fronts in 2017.
Human Resources Coordinator Valerie Poirier received the provincial Certified Human Resources Professionals Award of Excellence for her outstanding approach to her work.
OCHC was proud to be named a finalist in the Governance Professionals of Canada’s national competition for demonstrating the ‘Best Approach to Achieving Board & Committee Operations’ in relation to its innovative, structured approach for rating governance effectiveness.
OCHC introduced its strategic performance measurement reporting tool, Q-BIT, to the Board of Directors and management group in April 2017. Q-BIT uses a combination of analytics, graphs, risk ratings and narrative analysis to assist the senior leadership in assessing strategic performance and making corporate decisions.
Q-BIT is hosted on the OCHC intranet. This allows the leadership team to easily log into Q-BIT and search, browse and navigate through the most up-to-date strategic analysis on areas such as governance effectiveness, housing occupancy rates, quality of service delivery, budget performance and capital project completion percentages.
OCHC uses Q-BIT content to focus and prepare various corporate reports to the Board of Directors and committees. Elements of Q-BIT also provide anchor content for several components of the Annual Report.
In 2017, OCHC successfully implemented two new collective agreements with its labour partners, CUPE and CIPP. An interest-focused approach to collective bargaining was modelled with the goal of enabling more collaborative problem-solving at the bargaining table.
OCHC was successful in concluding bargaining in partnership with CUPE within its approved mandate and before the expiry of the collective agreement. Bargaining with CIPP began in 2017 and was also successfully concluded within the approved mandate. In both cases, three-year deals were negotiated and will expire at the end of 2019.
In 2017, OCHC continued to build its human resources programs and approaches based on the corporate Human Resources Strategy.
As a key driver and enabler to achieving strategic goals, culture emerged as a priority for OCHC. In 2017, OCHC undertook work to assess and define the future desired culture of the organization, and has begun developing a roadmap for this journey. A new executive leadership position for People and Culture was created to lead this journey and align culture across OCHC departments.
Another priority in the Human Resources Strategy is the introduction of a competency-based model. It will be the basis for employee performance management, development, coaching and overall engagement. Through 2017, OCHC completed significant work to finalize core and leadership competencies. Work will continue in 2018 to introduce the competencies in Human Resources programs with a focus on the performance management process.
In January 2018, the Board of Directors approved a new Learning and Development Policy. This is an important direction as it recognizes the importance of a work environment that encourages continuous learning to strengthen employee knowledge, skills and abilities, and to develop organizational capacity.
This is the second year that OCHC has used its standardized governance evaluation model to assess governance performance. The evaluation is based on ongoing monitoring of governance activity including survey results.
The aggregate governance performance rating for 2017 was 86%. This represents an increase in governance effectiveness of 1% over 2016.
OCHC maintained a high level of governance performance, and there were no significant governance risks identified.
While governance performance has been strong, OCHC has identified general areas that it will continue to advance related to enhancing the strategic focus of governance reports and meeting efficiencies.
There were tremendous contributions made by community volunteers as members of the Board of Directors and its committees. They participated in meetings, strategic sessions, governance learning and community events, bringing experiences as community champions, business, professional organizations and government.
OCHC continues to promote a safe workplace. The Joint Health and Safety Committee met regularly, and members received relevant training and certification. Health and safety training was provided to employees in areas such as first aid, safety awareness, WHMIS, table saw awareness, electrical safety, asbestos safety, fire life safety, fall protection and building evacuation response.
In 2017, the number of on-the-job injuries reduced slightly to return to the level experienced in 2015.
There has been a continuing major decline in lost days of work related to workplace injuries.
Media activity and media sentiment from both traditional and social media sources were monitored throughout 2017.
The rating for 2017 was 81%. This is an overall 10% annual increase in positive tone across media instances. While the sentiment is influenced by many external factors, OCHC focused its efforts to increase media outreach and social media usage in 2017.
As with previous years, negative media attention was primarily focused on security, fires, maintenance and repairs. Positive media attention was mainly focused on community-building activities, partnerships and new infrastructure developments.
As one of the largest community housing providers across Canada, OCHC continued its active involvement in influencing the housing sector. Canada hit a milestone in social and affordable housing in 2017 with the creation of the first ever National Housing Strategy. The province also engaged in critical consultation on changes contemplated under Ontario’s community housing modernization framework. OCHC provided leadership and valuable insight through response submissions to consultations and ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders in government and sector organizations.
OCHC participated in many community housing organizations, including the International Housing Partnership, the Canadian Housing Renewal Association, Housing Partnership Canada, Housing Services Corporation, Ottawa Social Housing Network, Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the Local Housing Corporations Forum. The senior leadership team sits on the Boards of most affordable housing bodies at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
On a broader note, staff engagement does not end within the community housing sector. OCHC employees regularly contribute to other Boards, committees and volunteer groups that strengthen work within their professions or the quality of life in the community.
In 2017, OCHC launched its Network Modernization initiative to update its aging electronic networks. The main goals of the project are to improve internet access, strengthen IT security and increase the performance of OCHC’s information systems. Like all modern organizations, OCHC recognizes that technology needs to be leveraged to deliver service to customers and that IT infrastructure must keep pace with rapid developments. Some specific achievements in 2017 included:
- Increased network security with improved cyber-security monitoring, intrusion detection and prevention
- Improved Wi-Fi services (greater wireless coverage)
- Standardized connectivity to multi-tenant buildings for monitoring building systems and security cameras
- Improved IT system monitoring, management, analytics and reporting
Additionally, the Board of Directors approved an updated Digital Networks and Devices Policy in March 2017 to provide overall direction to staff on the safe, appropriate and professional use of digital networks and devices.
In 2017, OCHC employees stepped forward to create a renewed Social Committee with the goal of strengthening employee engagement and satisfaction. Feedback from employees through surveys and informal conversation indicated that employees were seeking social opportunities to meet, connect and share with their colleagues.
The Social Committee organized events and smaller, more casual activities like the “Big Cheesy,” a grilled cheese lunch that was well-attended and positively received. The Social Committee believes that the success of the events and the strong employee interest in future activities confirm that the approach fits well in recognizing and supporting the OCHC work culture.
OCHC introduced its new intranet site called OCH Connect to its employees in April 2017. OCH Connect is the central source for employees to access the information they need to do their jobs such as IT systems, corporate policies and procedures, forms and templates, announcements and newsletters, contact lists, health and safety information, job postings, and classified ads.
One of the most significant features of OCH Connect is that it hosts a new, powerful electronic document and records management system. The new records management system was added to OCH Connect in September 2017 for approximately 50% of OCHC employees. It will be phased in to remaining departments in late 2018. It uses an industry-leading software called SharePoint to improve sharing and collaboration across departments, to enhance document security, to automate retention and disposal practices, and to eliminate duplication of documentation.
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