OSHN received a grant from the Community Housing Transformation Centre (CHTC) in 2020 to work on the Shared Services project for two years. This was Phase III of the initiative. Cahdco was hired as the Project Manager of Phase II. During this time, OSHN completed one-on-one engagement with housing providers regarding snow removal services, pest management, unit preparation, unit inspections, general buying and selling of services, and general maintenance services. OSHN created many resources to assist OSHN members on these topics. OSHN has also created this website as a result of the initiative.
Purchasing and Selling Services
OSHN conducted an open process for non-profits to declare their intention to sell or purchase services over several years. This involved hosting workshops, surveys, and numerous one-on-one meetings.
Through this engagement, affordable housing organizations noted that snow removal services, pest management, unit preparation, unit inspections, and general maintenance services were of top priority.
Pest Management & Unit Preparation
OSHN explored the feasibility of a joint pest management contract between multiple housing providers in Ottawa. The goal was to find cost savings for housing providers. Cahdco, as the Project Manager for Phase III, conducted one-on-one conversations with sixteen housing providers to learn about their past experiences with pest management services at their sites and determine what work OSHN could do to assist.
OSHN found that unit preparation was a key challenge. Nearly all of the housing providers told us that unit preparation can be particularly challenging for tenants, especially those living with mental illness or mobility challenges. Some of the providers used to contract Rideau Social Enterprises to help tenants prepare their unit. However, this company no longer exists. Many of the providers liked this service, especially because the costs could sometimes be covered under Ontario Works and/or Ontario Disability Support Program.
It was clear there is a need among the housing providers to help with tenant unit preparation prior to any chemicals being used on the units. OSHN responded to this need through discussions with the social enterprise, Causeway. OSHN conducted market analysis and based on this data, Causeway began to sell a new service: unit preparation services. If you are interested in purchasing unit preparation services, please contact Gregory Esnard [email protected].
Causeway Unit Preparation & Cleaning
OSHN also heard from housing providers what key steps were integral to bed bug removal. OSHN collected all of the steps and created this Bed Bugs Best Practices document.
An additional consideration for pest management is the new City of Ottawa bylaw requiring an Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPMP). Below are resources to assist with creating an IPMP.
City of Ottawa IPMP Template
Finally, OSHN created the following documents to assist OSHN members regarding pest management:
Pest Management – Housing Provider Educational Material
Pest Management – Tenant Educational Material
A survey conducted in 2019 indicated that several housing providers expressed interest in purchasing unit inspection services. Cahdco proceeded with one-on-one conversations with four housing providers to understand where they are in terms of readiness to purchase unit inspection services.
Through these conversations, OSHN has connected several housing providers to purchase and sell services amongst each other. If you are interested in purchasing unit inspection services from a local, non-profit housing provider, please contact [email protected].
General Maintenance Services
One-on-one engagement and follow-up surveys found that affordable housing providers in Ottawa wish to purchase general maintenance services that are of high quality at an affordable price. The preference is to purchase these services from another housing provider that is already conducting this work at their own units.
Affordable housing providers are seeking an affordable option to hire general maintenance services without resorting to hiring licensed technicians to do simple tasks. Many housing providers in Ottawa either do not have general maintenance staff or their staff are overwhelmed by the current number of work orders. During 2020-2022, housing providers have increasingly found it difficult to keep up with Work Orders (WO) for general maintenance tasks on their buildings. Several housing providers indicated that they have a large backlog in WO due to maintenance staff being unable to access units during the various lock-down stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. One-on-one engagement conducted by OSHN also found that many of the housing providers were not happy with the way their current general maintenance systems are set up, and seek a more refined, timely, and cost-effective process that offers a geographical reach that would serve all of their units.
At this time, the next step of the Shared Services project is to operate a pilot project for general maintenance services being shared amongst Ottawa affordable housing providers. So far, ten (10) affordable housing providers have expressed interest in purchasing general maintenance services from another housing provider. OSHN will put out another call for interested housing providers beyond these ten groups as the pilot is ready to be rolled out. If you are interested in joining the pilot, please contact [email protected].
OSHN conducted one-on-one conversations with 13 housing providers to gauge their interest in a joint contract for snow removal services and to learn about their past experiences with snow removal at their sites. Subsequently, in spring 2021, OSHN began coordinating snow removal contracts for the 2021-2022 winter season.
Fifteen housing providers interested in the pilot project. This demonstrates that many providers are interested in cost savings and willing to try out new projects and work with other providers to save on costs. Of those that were not interested for the 2021-2022 season, many requested to be included in a future pilot.
This pilot project had challenges outside of OSHN’s control. It was difficult to get snow removal contractors to bid on the work and of the bids received, none were cheaper than what the housing providers paid in the previous season. Therefore, the pilot project did not result in any cost savings for the housing providers. Some of the reasons for this included:
- To find cost savings, contracts should be for multiple years, not single year contracts. However, the housing providers wanted only one-year contracts to test out the pilot.
- Joint contracts often do not have the desired effect of cost savings. Other large housing providers in the City are finding this as well and actually dividing up their properties to do several smaller contracts instead of one large one.
- Housing providers should simplify the type of snow removal work they require.
- One-on-one conversations with snow removal companies can have a better chance of receiving a bid, as opposed to sending a large RFP.
OSHN created a best practices document when procuring snow removal services.
Snow Removal – Best Practices
Thanks to the Shared Services Initiative and funding from CHTC, OSHN was able to create this web presence for OSHN members, and the general public. This website will be used to coordinate OSHN events, post resources to assist OSHN members, and connect OSHN members to purchase and sell services from one another.
If your organization is interested in participating in the Shared Services initiative, or has an idea for work that OSHN has not considered at this time, please contact [email protected].
List of Technicians