• Client Profile: Ottawa Community Housing Corporation

    Ottawa Community Housing Corporation (OCHC), an arm’s-length organization owned by the City of Ottawa, was formed in 2001 and is now the second largest social housing provider in Ontario.

    OCHC owns and manages over 14,800 units providing housing to over 32,000 low and moderate-income individuals in Ottawa. With a waiting list at over 10,000 individuals, demand is strong for their various townhouses, apartments, seniors-only apartments, family high-rise buildings and row-house communities.

    Ottawa Community Housing CorpChallenges

    Over the years it has been a challenge for OCHC to access new capital funding to address the backlog of capital repairs and allow them to continue adding units to their portfolio. OCHC has an aging and diverse housing portfolio with some of their buildings and communities in a poor state of repair.

    In 2008, a Building Condition Assessment was completed on OCHC’s entire housing stock which identified $211 million in capital repairs that were past due and required immediate attention. As of 2013, significant progress was made in reducing the backlog which stood at $145.8 million.

    With government fiscal restraints at all levels, OCHC had to consider other sources of new capital to help revitalize their housing stock valued at over $2 billion. They implemented a major capital works program and developed a long-term financial strategy, which included partnering with Infrastructure Ontario to leverage their equity to finance much needed repairs.

    Unlocking Equity 

    OCHC first came to IO in 2009 to finance capital repairs, and returned in 2012 and 2013 for additional loans to unlock funds they had tied up in 17 mortgages. They were able to take advantage of IO’s historically low interest rates and longer terms by replacing mortgages that were coming up for renewal with new 30-year mortgages. By doing so, they were able to free up $49.8 million in new capital and put it towards repairs for their entire housing stock.

    “It has been a pleasure working with IO staff over the course of this project. With IO’s attractive rates and terms, we were able to replace existing mortgages with new 30-year mortgages freeing up funds to put towards repairs for our housing stock.”

    Venanzio Giannantonio, Director of Finance - Ottawa Community Housing Corporation

    Optimistic Outlook

    Despite the mounting costs associated with the backlog, and the lack of funding for repairs, OCHC has made considerable strides in eliminating their capital repair backlog. Their financing relationship with IO was unique, and a first of its kind, spurring similar organizations to enter into similar refinancing arrangements.

    To learn more about OCHC go to www.och.ca.