Innovative Excel tool aids cost-efficient capital needs planning for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

WASHINGTON, DC – March 22, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — One of HDC’s important services is to help affordable housing providers plan for the long-term capital needs of their properties. Last fall, we had the opportunity to work with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare to address a challenging, yet common, capital needs planning problem: how to translate point-in-time data about individual properties into a dynamic projection of portfolio-wide capital needs costs. Assisted by database developer Doug Glancy, we helped Cascadia create an Excel tool that’s as powerful as anything we’ve seen for bridging that information gap.

The challenge: Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare provides services and housing for people experiencing mental illness, addiction and homelessness. The Portland nonprofit wanted a robust tool to help it plan for immediate and future capital needs costs across a sizeable and diverse housing portfolio—600 units in 43 properties, ranging from detached group homes to mid-size multifamily apartment buildings. Available data: capital needs assessments (CNAs), variously up to date, for 26 properties. Available funds: a GHAP capacity-building grant from Oregon Housing and Community Services.

The solution: First, HDC’s on-staff building inspector made a list of prioritized immediate and five-year repair needs across Cascadia’s portfolio, based on existing CNAs and additional property inspections. Then our asset management team worked with Cascadia and Doug to create an Excel database tool loaded with formulas for calculating line-item costs, based on HDC-provided assumptions about the costs and life cycles of building systems and components. Finally, we entered Cascadia’s capital needs data into the database, and trained Cascadia’s asset managers to use the database’s filtering, sorting and calculating controls.

Now, Cascadia can…

  • Look at needs across the whole portfolio, by an individual property, or within a particular subset—such as roofs due for replacement in the next five years, or toilets due for replacement in group home properties.
  • Calculate costs for different types of repair work across the whole portfolio or any subset of it, to enable more efficient contracting for construction/repair services.
  • Track work completed over time, and update projections.

Preserving and sustaining existing affordable housing is central to HDC’s mission, and improving access to technology and data management for capital needs planning is an important part of our work. We’re excited about the potential for customized Excel tools like Cascadia’s to help affordable housing sponsors take their capital needs planning to the next level.

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