Social Infrastructure Fund – Social Housing Improvement Program
Over the past year, ONPHA members have benefited from recent federal and provincial investments in social and affordable housing. One of these funding programs is the Social Infrastructure Fund – Social Housing Improvement Program (SHIP).
In the 2016 Federal budget, the government of Canada increased the funding for social housing and created a new program for capital repairs through the Social Infrastructure Fund. Ontario set aside $209.4 million for SHIP for 2016/2017. Timelines were set by the federal government and were very tight. Service managers and housing providers were (and are) severely tested in their ability to spend the money within the required timeframes.
One ONPHA member, who focuses on seniors housing, is amongst many who have already received SHIP funding. They asked us not to reveal their name so we have included some details about their particular situation as a way to highlight why they were successful in receiving SHIP funding.
This seniors housing provider operates over 300 units, some with personal support, and a number of other services including recreational programs, as well as an apartment tower with independent living units. In June 2016, they successfully applied for, and received funding for the upgrading of waterlines in both towers. With support from their service manager in the application process, they were able to update an important part of their infrastructure, reducing long-term expenses in their building and improving water quality for the residents.
Service manager application processes differed in Ontario. Some service managers used existing building condition assessments and/or asset management software to distribute funding to non-profit housing providers. Some had stringent approval procedures.
In areas that required applications, being ahead of the curve was very important. Asset management and capital planning are continuous processes that housing providers need to undertake. They require thought and planning long before any funding is announced. Government funding often has short turnaround times and tight, inflexible deadlines. The ability to execute swiftly is critical.
How can housing providers get ready for future rounds of funding?
- Talk to your service manager about requirements of past funding announcements.
- Focus on the long-term and planning cycles for your building or buildings.
- Make sure your building condition assessments and other planning tools are up-to-date. Having current information can result in huge material and cost-saving benefits.
In ONPHA’s 2016-19 Strategic Plan, our members said they wanted ONPHA to help them achieve a sustainable future. This means that “ONPHA will be an active and strategic participant in the transformation coming to Ontario’s housing system”. Members can take part by:
- Registering for the upcoming regional meetings that ONPHA is holding throughout the province in March and April. Our focus this year is in how we can all evolve in the future. Government is looking to modernize our sector and by building on our meetings in 2016, we will discuss how providers can modernize their operations.
Attending a new two day in-person training session called “Funding our Future” on May 25 & 26. This will be an excellent opportunity to think about planning processes that are necessary to be prepared to act in future rounds of funding and to consider ways to save money. More details will be available shortly.