So much has been accomplished in five years – and there’s so much more to come.
Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust marked its fifth anniversary in a year in which just about every aspect of civic life was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public health restrictions and the very real chance the virus could rear its head in Christchurch prevented the Trust from even the most low-key birthday celebration.
Instead, we marked our fifth financial year with an annual review that showed just how far ŌCHT’s come in such a short space of time.
READ MORE: ŌCHT Annual Report Financial Year 2020/21
In our video of the review, chief executive Cate Kearney and some of the board members who helped shaped the Trust explain how the fledgling organisation grew into its fifth year.
The Trust was established in 2016 from the Christchurch City Council’s desire to protect and improve the long-term position of its community housing portfolio.
The council leased about 2300 council units to ŌCHT and capitalised it with $50 million in land and social housing. ŌCHT set to work putting sustainability and tenants at the centre of all we would do.
The Trust offered 1930 new tenancies over five years as it worked hard to help make the council’s housing portfolio financially sustainable.
Central to this was increasing the proportion of tenancies receiving the government’s Income Related Rent Subsidy.
None were eligible when the homes were managed by the council. Now, 42.5% of council and 62% of ŌCHT tenancies receive the subsidy.
We returned $11 million in surplus lease payments to the council in our first five years – money available for reinvestment in community housing.
The Trust managed around 2400 properties, including properties ŌCHT owns, in 2020/21. We also built 103 modern, warm, efficient community homes, outstripping our annual target of 100 new houses a year.
We delivered our first new homes in 2019; we’d delivered 160 by the end of 2020/21. We’ve more planned.
Some of our developments became award winners.
Tiwaiwaka Lane was a Silver Award Winner in the Residential Project category of the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards 2021.
Our Brougham St development, whose three communities were built across the financial year, was the first of its kind to receive a Christchurch Civic Trust Award for making a material and beneficial change to the city environment.
Our Warm and Dry Initiative partnership with the council, to upgrade homes to meet the government’s Healthy Homes standards, completed its work during the 2020/21 financial year – well ahead of the July 2023 deadline.
Improving homes was one way we pursued our important establishment goal of putting tenant at the centre of all we do, and we backed this up by reorganising our teams to further focus on tenant wellbeing and support.
These changes are part of the context in which we conducted our annual surveys. The latest survey found 82% of respondents are satisfied with our overall performance — the highest score since 2015.
Sustainability is at the centre of our work with tenants and it’s at the centre of our relationship with our environment.
As part of this commitment, we become a Toitū carbonzero certification organisation. The certification programme will help us reduce our impact on global warming. We’re measuring, continually managing and working to reduce our emissions to meet its aims.
Our commitments to the environment and tenants combined in a two-year e-vehicle trial in which we provided subsidised ride share e-cars, and free-to-use e-bikes. They were based at Karoro Lane; researchers will learn more about how low carbon alternatives work in the community housing context.
We ended the financial year preparing for our first International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) audit of the way we manage quality, our environmental impact, and health and safety (there’ll be more on this soon).
We were also scaling up to take over responsibility for planned maintenance and renewals of council-owned homes. The council, as property owner, did this work over our first five years.
We’d established a partnership with fibre broadband infrastructure company Enable, aiming to get free internet into ŌCHT homes, and we were poised to establish a new digital coaching role to improve tenants’ digital skills.
There’s heaps more to learn in the video and in the Annual Report – and there’ll be many more things to celebrate in the years to come.
Published January 27, 2022