NHA’s Service Delivery Principles

NHA's service delivery principles

Here at NHA, we have a lot of conversations with stakeholders about who we ARE and who we want to BE. And while sometimes a few of the words or plans change, it’s safe to say that at the CORE of Norfolk we still want the same things we’ve been built upon.

Here are our guiding Service Delivery Principles that we consider in every decision and interaction with residents, partners, staff, and our board.

Respect, Compassion & Dignity

In all aspects of our service and approach our aim is to demonstrate respect, exercise compassion, and protect the dignity of others. At the forefront of our values is our belief in and respect for an individual’s right to housing, self-determination, and the right to have a say in how their lives unfold.

Non-Judgement & Anonymity  

People should never be defined by their annual income – income does not denote worthiness or validate the right to privacy and respect. It is never our place as providers of housing and property management service, to judge an individual’s history, circumstance, or financial capacity in relation to the housing or service they receive from us.

Poverty and homelessness incur a significant social and financial cost to society and may be traumatic for those with lived experience. We know that many Calgarians face hardship due to circumstances beyond their control. We exist to serve the community by providing a safety net, and by operating housing that is in good condition, is inclusive, and provides for community connection for residents at all income levels.

Responsiveness & Transparency

NHA has always valued resident participation, and this is reflected in our governing bylaws and articles of incorporation. While the board of directors employs a governance model of organizational oversight, it recognizes the importance of resident perspectives. It has been our experience that residents care deeply about what happens to the buildings they live in and want to see the association serve more Calgarians.

But that wasn’t enough for us. We recognized the value that giving residents a more direct line into the organization would offer (for residents, staff, AND the board!) and so in 2016 we started the Community Advisory Group. Meeting quarterly, the group ensures that communication, opportunities to connect, transparency, and the opportunity to participate in making our community better are at the forefront of our resident engagement.

Relationships

We see value in creating relationships with residents built on respect for self-determination around how they wish to engage with the Norfolk community and beyond. We do not have requirements for residents to engage in any of our programming. (We do require residents provide income verification if receiving subsidized rent) All residents are treated as valued clients who are always entitled to excellent customer service and professionalism.

Quality Housing

Each one of us at Norfolk would be proud to live in any one of our buildings. Of utmost importance to staff and the board is the health and safety of residents, the integrity of the structural elements and building envelopes, and finally that the units we rent are clean and leased out in the state that we wish to have them returned to us at the end of a residency.

This means we have high expectations of our maintenance staff as well as our residents in upkeep of our housing units. When we demonstrate that we care for our properties we see that residents also show the same care. Well-kept properties also enhance our relationships with our neighbours resulting in acceptance and integration of our housing without stigma.

Operational Sustainability

We strive to run the organization through a sustainable social enterprise model whereby our basic operating standards and subsidy commitments are funded by reliable revenue streams, such as rents. We obtain funding from other sources, such as government, for specific projects or capital upgrades but always with a focus on long-term sustainability.

It is important for us to provide affordable housing in perpetuity for those who need it. Projects with a time horizon or a future transition off subsidy can be a good fit for some, but not all – recognition of this is critical to the stability of the housing market in Calgary and the future of NHA.

Vibrant Community

We recognize that there is immense value for low and moderate income Calgarians to have an opportunity to live in an amenity rich, vibrant community that provides access to reliable transit routes, community supports, shopping, schools, and employment opportunities. These amenities enhance quality of life and support increased diversity of neighbourhoods and that plays a huge part in the decisions NHA makes around steady, sustainable growth.

Collaboration

We cannot be all things to all people, and therefore collaboration and partnership is key in the delivery of community housing. We are stronger as a sector when we work together.

Sometimes this means we step aside and avoid competition if a partner is better equipped to deliver a project. The affordable housing sector serves a spectrum of complex needs and so it requires many partners to deliver critical services and social supports.

We also believe that as housing providers we should not have knowledge or control over the personal choices of our residents. What matters to us is that residents are safe, healthy, can live and manage their homes to our expectations as compassionate landlords. Information about a resident’s medical history or diagnosis, for example, should not impact their ability to remain housed if they are a good resident that pays rent on time and demonstrates respect for our buildings, neighbours, and staff.


We’d love to hear from you! What do you think of our guiding principles and did anything surprise you?

One of the most important things about who NHA is as an organization is that we value feedback from our stakeholders – and that means you!

We’re looking forward to another year of excellent service, thoughtful change, and aspiring to be THE standard for community housing delivery in our city. Happy new year!

Riley Park Place – 18 Months On

Riley Park Place - Eighteen Months On

When NHA became mortgage-free in 2018, we knew it was time to add to our portfolio and offer more Calgarians housing in a safe and diverse community.

We gathered input from stakeholders and weighed our values carefully: what – and where – could we buy that would be close to important amenities, such as transit and grocery stores, offer options for families, and ensure that staff could efficiently manage the new building without heavily increased admin costs?

We narrowed it down and started the hunt, and what do you know!? Before long, we found the perfect spot and a family willing to give a non-profit with a mission a bit of a deal. Community looking out for community!

And that is how we came to own Riley Park Place. Boasting 24 units, a mix of studio, 1 and 2 bedrooms, plus a ground floor and elevator meant that we could hope to serve both small families and persons with varied mobility needs. Plus, and perhaps most incredibly for us, it sits in the heart of Hillhurst-Sunnyside – where we already operated 5 other buildings – and is close to the train, schools, parks, and grocery shopping. Success!

We were thrilled. And we haven’t looked back since.

You can read more about the acquisitions and background here.

Riley Park Place is an excellent building, with a good structure, and had been well cared for over the years. But in holding with our service delivery principles of providing quality homes in good neighbourhoods, we knew that we could still improve it for our current and future residents.

So we got to work. And it has been an exceptionally busy – and fruitful – 18 months.

Here’s an account of improvements our team has made in the last 18 months to make sure that our apartments feel like home:

In the front entry, lobby, and all of the hallways, we put in new carpet, painted all the walls, and installed vinyl plank, updating the space to a brighter, more modern feel.

Before
After

Low energy and brighter LED lights were installed in all common areas and hallways of the entire building. This not only upgrades the building visually, but increases mobility and access, as well as security.

Automatic LED lights were placed at the rear of the building, improving safety and security in the parking lot and most used entrance for residents.

We installed automatic lights in the laundry room to aid residents with full hands, as well as lower energy consumption in the building.

Before
After

In order to maintain consistency with our other buildings, and align with our mandates around accessibility and safety, a keyless fob system was installed at Riley Park Place at both major entrances. Additionally, a new intercom was installed on the outside of the building (as opposed to inside the double doors), enhancing security again.

The front entry doors were automated and a cement ramp built leading up to the main doors. As mentioned, the building has an elevator and ground floor apartments – excellent mobility options. But without a ramp and automated doors, the building could not be made accessible to those who might benefit. We’re excited that we will now have a second building in our portfolio that is partially accessible and offers a greater diversity to our awesome resident population.

Balconies were overhauled, too, with new railings of a modern aluminum installed that’s also sturdier over time, any cracks in the cement were fixed, and all were re-sealed to preserve the concrete and provide a more aesthetically pleasing look to the building overall.

As units turn over, many are also being overhauled and updated. Plenty of them have had kitchen updates with new countertops and refinished or replaced cupboards as well as new vanities installed in the bathrooms and tubs resealed. Many of the units have had old carpet flooring replaced with modern laminate. And water shutoffs, plumbing, lighting, fixtures and more have all been updated and replaced.

Before
After

And those are just the big items. To say that the entire operational team has been hard at work would be quite the understatement!

We’re really proud of the work that’s been undertaken to ensure that all of our residents live in a safe, beautiful, and dignified home. And even more importantly, to ensure that everyone can remain adequately housed well into the future.

There are some big learnings we’ve taken away from this big endeavour and we’re excited to apply those lessons to new projects and more opportunities to provide Calgarians with affordable and appropriate housing in the coming year(s)!

Stay tuned, because we’re just getting started.

Community Stories: Meet InGear

Norfolk Housing Association is fortunate to own several commercial spaces in the heart of Kensington. The rents collected from these spaces are one of the important ways that we can maintain our ongoing operations. But more than that, these businesses are another key component of our community, adding to the vibrancy of the neighbourhood, the diversity of our model, and the relationship between neighbours and small businesses.

And as such, we think they’re worth celebrating! So this month, let’s get to know InGear a little bit better. It’s been a tough couple of years and we’re so glad to have these folks as part of our community. We appreciate you supporting ALL small businesses in whatever way you can comfortably do so.

Ok, now let’s get to know InGear!

How long have you been renting commercial space from NHA and how did you first hear about us?

We have been renting our current space from Norfolk for approximately two years

What were the key factors in choosing to rent one of our commercial spaces instead of others?

We have been in the area for over 30 years so have been aware of the importance of what Norfolk brings to the community.
We had been in two previous locations over an extended period of time .When we were approached by Norfolk we knew that they would be more than a landlord we would have a partner.
 

Tell us a little about what sets you apart as a business.

We try to represent as many Canadian artists as possible. There are a number of very talented people and we are allowing them to showcase their talents .Like most businesses we have evolved and now have beautiful succulent plants, Kuhl clothing,and of course amazing jewellery.
 
What does community mean to you/your business? 
 
When we decided to move from our last location we could have relocated anywhere in the city but the community had supported us through so many transitions it was an easy decision to stay in Kensington.
 

What’s one thing that community members can do today to support your small business?

Shop local has been a difference to us and very much appreciated.
 
You can find InGear online at www.ingearstore.com or pop in at #100, 206 10A St. NW to check out their incredible range of gifts, decor, and jewelry.

Building Healthy Communities