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Posted by on Oct 2021 in Advocacy, All Stories, Features, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Creating solutions for a sustainable future: The 2021 ONPHA Conference

Nov 10-12 2021
Opening doors through housing

We’re gearing up for the 2021 ONPHA Conference, taking place in our brand-new virtual space, November 10-12. This year’s theme, Opening doors through housing, invites you to consider excellence and innovation, both in our operational practices and the future of our sector as a whole. 

Our Conference program is geared towards community housing professionals specializing in everything from property management to senior leadership, and designed around our strategic objectives:  

  • Cohesive sector leadership 
  • A people-centred housing system
  • Building a sustainable sector 

Read on to get a preview of day three of the 2021 Conference and hear ONPHA’s Director of Operations Andrew McKenzie share his insights on building sustainability into our sector.

Creating solutions for a sustainable future

Day 3 of the 2021 Conference will explore this year’s theme ‘Opening doors through housing’ with an eye on creating a sustainable housing sector to serve the needs of Ontarians for years to come. 

Day three’s sessions will examine a range of topics that will get you thinking about how you can build sustainability into your organization and the sector. We’ll welcome housing, policy, and social services experts from across the province and the country to discuss:

  • modern financing and funding solutions
  • supporting financial stability with property tax exemptions
  • cross-sector collaborations
  • using tech to gain visibility and empower your teams
  • building sustainable housing in rural communities and more!

Plus, updates from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation!

Examining sector sustainability with Andrew McKenzie

Andrew McKenzie, Director of Operations

Andrew McKenzie, ONPHA’s Director of Operations says that for day three of the conference, he is most excited about the fact that we’ll be coming up with some really tangible and sustainable solutions for the community housing sector. “For the last 30 years, it’s really been about the bricks and mortar and just trying to build more buildings. However, the community housing sector is faced with a lot more complex problems than that,” he states.

When reflecting on what sector sustainability means and how we can become sustainable in our sector, Andrew says that there are several ways we can look at this. “Firstly, it comes down to money for our sector. Not just in the traditional sense of grants or government subsidies, but through the understanding of new finance models, financing solutions and partnerships where non-profits and community housing providers can go ahead and figure out new solutions for themselves. In this way, they are controlling their own destiny, as opposed to waiting for new public policy to be developed and deployed.”  

Cross-sector collaboration is also big when you’re looking at true sustainability for our sector, he points. “Learning how to make those cross-sector relationships more meaningful and come to life are big on helping our sector move forward with some longevity. For example, when I think about healthcare in the pandemic or education, they kind of merge into a nucleus of what community housing providers provide for people. They don’t just provide housing, they provide places for people to live and thrive.”

Andrew also sees technology as a massive enabler in our sector. He says, “although technology can be scary for some in the community housing sector, as it usually equates to money, technology can also help community housing providers move forward and actually become more efficient. Technology can help you redirect how you’re spending and how you’re utilizing funds and put them into more meaningful places. In a lot of cases, for community housing providers, that’s putting it into the front lines and into their people.” This being said, technology and how to leverage technology is going to be a big way of helping sustain our sector. This is something we can learn through day three of this year’s conference.

Lastly, Andrew says it is important to put an eye towards growing and sustaining our rural communities: “We’ve done a lot of work through ONPHA’s Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan, but there’s a lot of other aspects of rural living that need to be brought up to speed and that could be ground for community housing providers. In big cities, in terms of land density, there’s not really anywhere to grow. In Toronto for example, everything’s growing up into the sky. Then you compare these big cities to some rural areas where there’s an abundance of land but no one to develop it. So when we think of how to expand and create more stock, because the stock is also a part of our sustainability issue of preserving and growing our stock in community housing, rural communities would be a great place to focus.” Learning how we can support and grow then ultimately sustain these communities would be useful, and you’ll be able to learn all of these things on day three of the conference!

When asked what he is most excited about for this year’s conference, Andrew responded that he is most looking forward to getting back to our traditional three-day conference format. He says, “Although I really appreciate people coming out last year and doing it in a one-day virtual event, I thought that it was really limited to a sense. Now that we have this expanded programming over the course of three days, I’m excited that people are interested and want to come back and partake. I’m personally excited to be having more opportunities to engage with our members and delegates over an expanded period of time. It’s great to be back together. Even though it’s still virtual, it’s starting to feel a little bit more like we can get back to being together, which is what I’m looking forward to the most.”

Check out our website to find more information about the 2021 ONPHA Conference, the program, and the speakers. You can find a preview of day one of the Conference and a discussion about leadership with ONPHA CEO Marlene Coffey right here on the blog. As well as an overview of day two of the conference which looks at people-centred solutions with ONPHA’s Senior Manager of the Centre for Housing Excellence Helen Harris here.

We hope to see you in our virtual Conference space this fall! 

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