Sud­bury Hous­ing au­dited

City’s au­di­tor rec­om­mends changes

The Sudbury Star - - NEWS - mkke­own@post­ Twit­ter: @marykke­own 705-674-5271, ext. 505235 MARY KATHER­INE KE­OWN

The city’s non-profit hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion is due for a few up­dates, a re­cent gov­er­nance au­dit has rec­om­mended.

City staff mem­bers re­cently com­pleted an au­dit of the Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and pre­sented their find­ings to the au­dit com­mit­tee this week. The gov­er­nance au­dit fo­cused on the over­sight struc­tures and sys­tems in place within the hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion, in­clud­ing the struc­ture and man­date of the or­ga­ni­za­tion; as well as an ex­am­i­na­tion of the roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and its se­nior lead­er­ship team.

The scope of the au­dit was im­pres­sive – it cov­ered three years, from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2017.

“The key ob­jec­tive of the au­dit was to as­sess the ef­fec­tive­ness of the de­sign of over­sight struc­tures and pro­cesses,” a staff re­port notes. “As such, the au­dit was not specif­i­cally de­signed to as­sess whether the over­sight pro­cesses are op­er­at­ing as de­signed and/or the out­comes gen­er­ated by th­ese over­sight pro­cesses.”

The hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion is large. It man­ages thou­sands of units across Sud­bury and gen­er­ates mil­lions in rev­enue.

“The (Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion) is the largest mu­nic­i­pally con­trolled land­lord in the city with 1,848 units that rep­re­sent 39 per cent of the pur­pose-built so­cial hous­ing stock in the city,” the re­port in­di­cates. “In ad­di­tion, the (hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion) has en­tered into an agree­ment to ad­min­is­ter rent supplement agree­ments in 553 units owned by pri­vate land­lords. In the fis­cal year 2016, the (hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion) gen­er­ated $18.6 mil­lion in rev­enue, in­clud­ing $11 mil­lion in sub­sidy and rent supplement fees from the City of Greater Sud­bury, and $18.4 mil­lion in ex­penses re­sult­ing in an op­er­at­ing sur­plus of $169,000.”

While staff found the Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion is gen­er­ally well run and ef­fec­tive, Ron Foster, the city’s au­di­tor­gen­eral, noted a few ar­eas where im­prove­ments could be made.

For one thing, the op­er­at­ing frame­work is dated and re­quires a re­boot.

“The man­ager of hous­ing ser­vices com­pleted an ini­tial re­view of the dec­la­ra­tion and ad­vised the (cor­po­ra­tion) of the re­view but to date no for­mal re­vi­sions have been com­pleted and ap­proved,” the re­port notes. The (Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion) was cre­ated in 2000. “Stake­hold­ers from both (the cor­po­ra­tion) and the city have in­di­cated that up­dates to the dec­la­ra­tion would be ben­e­fi­cial.”

Se­condly, where coun­cil­lors are con­cerned, the hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion is fall­ing short.

“The city’s ori­en­ta­tion process for new and re­turn­ing city coun­cil­lors does not pro­vide suf­fi­cient con­tent with re­gard to the role of the GSHC or suf­fi­cient con­text with re­spect to the role and obli­ga­tions of coun­cil­lors par­tic­i­pat­ing on the GSHC board,” the re­port states. “The GSHC’s ori­en­ta­tion process for new board mem­bers does not pro­vide suf­fi­cient con­text with re­spect to the du­ties and obli­ga­tions of coun­cil­lors as board mem­bers, in par­tic­u­lar, the po­ten­tial con­flict be­tween the in­ter­ests of a coun­cil­lor as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the city and as a mem­ber of the GSHC board. …

“The monthly re­port­ing pack­age to the GSHC board pro­vides sig­nif­i­cant in­for­ma­tion but a for­mal, com­pre­hen­sive per­for­mance man­age­ment frame­work – in­clud­ing spe­cific key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors – is not in place.”

Foster said Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion staff has agreed to work with city staff to im­prove the man­age­ment frame­work and to en­sure coun­cil­lors know better what their roles are on the board.

“The city’s ori­en­ta­tion pro­cesses for coun­cil­lors should be up­dated to in­crease the con­tent re­lated to the GSHC and to fo­cus on the gen­eral role and obli­ga­tions of coun­cil­lors when act­ing as board mem­bers of the GSHC,” the re­port said.

Ward 1 Coun. Mark Sig­noretti was trou­bled by the lack of a work plan.

“It’s a little dis­turb­ing to see there hasn’t been a for­mal work plan or up­date since 2000,” he said. “I’m glad to see there are rec­om­men­da­tions mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion be­cause to op­er­ate un­der this for­mat seems a little loosey-goosey, if I can use that term.”

Foster con­ceded the cor­po­ra­tion’s stock “is ag­ing ” across the board. He also said there is a need for pe­ri­odic up­dates, per­haps ev­ery decade.

“I’m en­cour­aged to hear there was agree­ment around the ta­ble that it was time for an up­date,” Foster said.

Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kir­wan, vice-chair of the Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion board, said “op­er­a­tions are mov­ing quite well,” but he too, ad­mit­ted it was time for a re­fresh.

“I can tell you the GSHC is per­form­ing ad­mirably un­der the cir­cum­stances with a very ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture,” he said. “We are look­ing for­ward to our port­fo­lio re­view.”

To that end, the city is look­ing into re­cruit­ing a third party who will com­plete a re­view of the cor­po­ra­tion.

“The City of Greater Sud­bury has be­gun the pro­cure­ment process of hir­ing a third party to com­plete an op­er­a­tional re­view of Greater Sud­bury Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion,” the re­port con­cluded. “The op­er­a­tional re­view will as­sess the over­sight pro­cesses and eval­u­ate the ef­fec­tive­ness of the cur­rent or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture and re­port­ing re­la­tion­ship.”

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