We are in this together!
Throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, OCCH remains concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our staff, partners, and the residents and communities we serve. We are certainly thinking about those who have been affected by COVID-19 and our thoughts are with their families and loved ones. We hope you are all well and have adjusted to the “new normal” routines for business and family life.
Most recently, OCCH is called to refocus on the long-time and often-deadly impacts of the infection of racism that produces continued injustice and inequity in our communities and disproportionately impacts our black and brown residents, staff and neighbors. We are committed to the journey to healing and positive change. OCCH’s priority during this time has been to support our employees, their families, and our clients while continuing to raise capital to build sustainable communities and create innovative solutions to help our partners and residents navigate these uncertain times.
What’s New in the Next Normal?
As OCCH moves to our “Next Normal,” we want to share with you important new developments and activities within OCCH. We accelerated deployment of a technology initiative, designed for improved communication and collaboration among our mobile workforce, to allow for new opportunities for teams to work together to best serve our investors, our partners, and our communities. We remain highly focused, productive, and eager to continue our mission to advance the preservation, production, and management of affordable housing.
To that end, we are pleased that, despite the COVID-19 disruption, we continue to receive very strong demand for Ohio Equity Fund XXX (OEF XXX), which will support the financing needs of 37 properties and over 3,000 units of affordable housing in Ohio, Kentucky West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This $280+ million fund, scheduled for final closing by the end of June, is one of OCCH’s earliest closings in some time and we are grateful to our investors for their support.
Development and Construction News
The OCCH Development and Fund Management teams are hard at work, having closed 12 transactions already for a total of $115M, with more than 20 developments closing in the next 60-90 days. We are working diligently with our development partners to review and work through each deal in our pipeline from development to closing, and construction to lease-up. We are reviewing and approving all COVID-19 safety protocols established by the developer and general contractor to maintain safe space at occupied rehabilitation projects and the plans for safe resident relocations. We continue to monitor and assess the strength of our partners, track their guarantees, and discuss strategies to support our partners and their respective portfolios.
Our Construction Management team is highly focused around the status of our 66 active projects currently under construction, the construction schedule, quality control and now COVID-19 related issues. They have incorporated a COVID-19 update section to the standard Architect Field Report in order to track the impact of COVID-19 on each project as well as the safety protocol that is in place at each job site. Construction Management will continue to gather and share information and evaluate on-site safety practices at all construction sites.
The OCCH Finance team began the transition to a new software platform in February which will result in convenient new reporting within a few months. While prudently conserving cash and managing expenses, we continue the financial operations of Ohio Capital Corporation and its affiliates with little interruption to ensure that we meet our obligations to partners, vendors and investors. As of today, 98% of the lower-tier audits and tax returns have been finalized leading to 78% of the Ohio Equity Fund audits and tax returns being completed.
Asset Management News
The Asset Management Department is pleased to report that the OCCH portfolio-wide performance in the first quarter was the strongest recorded at OCCH. The team has been hard at work remotely receiving, processing, analyzing and distributing reports to our partners’ on-time and without delay. Asset Management is actively modifying lease-up monitoring protocols and working on leasing ‘best practices’ to aid our partners in effectively leasing in this challenging environment. The team is working with our management company partners to assist with rent collection and actively monitoring for any challenges with tenant receivables or with portfolio performance. The team is working to initiate a modified inspection protocol to resume site visits within the portfolio in the upcoming months.
New COVID-19 Strike Force Response Team
While the OCCH portfolio performance has never been stronger, we are cognizant of the fact that the U.S. economy is in deep recession. We know that a few of our partners may begin to feel financial stress. In our effort to remain diligent in assisting our management or development partners, OCCH has established the “COVID-19 Strike Force Response Team, an ‘information hub’ that will respond to any requests from partners resulting from COVID-related issues and we have streamlined access to operating reserves.
OCCH Affiliate Updates: New Resources to Meet New and Persistent Problems
We have announced a variety of innovations to assist our partners in meeting the needs of residents during these uncertain times. Our philanthropic affiliate, OCIC, has created programs and resources:
Our lending CDFI, OCFC, remains a strong and needed resource for affordable housing developers as evidenced by closing over $15M in loans in eight transactions in the first quarter and OCFC is on target to close another $27M in the second quarter. In addition to providing capital to support LIHTC projects and the Southside Renaissance Fund, OCFC launched the 614 for Linden place-based initiative to aide in the implementation of the community plan.
Our property management affiliate, CPO, continues to operate safely and resourcefully, serving residents and successfully moving in 69 new residents between March-May. CPO has hired a few strong property management staff, including a new Director of Resident Services. Our Resident Services team has remained focused on assisting families with access to food, PPE, and educational resources, and activities for CPO children.
Along with many of you, we are fully engaged within the affordable housing industry in response to a wide range of policy considerations. From CRA reform, proposed technical revisions to Section 42, or local matters like reform of the methodology of real estate tax valuations in Ohio, key members of the OCCH team have been involved in efforts to pursue sound public policy goals that further the cause of affordable housing sustainability.
We remain hopeful that affordable housing and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program are included in the next round of federal recovery legislation, and with many of our partners, we are working hard to that end. Together, we are examining best practices for successfully navigating these unique circumstances and preparing for an uncertain future. OCCH is also committed to be an agent of change in tackling the persistent problem of systemic racism and a partner on the journey to healing in our community and in our nation.
We are eager to keep the critical work we do together moving forward and are confident we can meet these unprecedented challenges with strength, action, and expertise. We need to take care of each other and ourselves to continue our work creating affordable, sustainable communities for our residents and their families.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to OCCH with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. Stay safe and be well.