Avenue Living’s Rapid Response During COVID-19
Avenue Living acted rapidly during the pandemic to ensure the safety of both residents and team members.
With $1.6 billion assets under management that include 10,000 residential rental units, the company owns and operates 430 buildings in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The 20,000 people across the Prairies who call Avenue Living home are the heartland’s workforce: they work at Walmart, Costco and Superstore, in hospitals and factories, they keep deliveries running on time and our communities clean. Not only were these residents working on the front lines during this deeply unsettling time — many of Avenue Living’s team members were front line workers as well.
One of the core beliefs that Avenue Living was founded on is “Duty of Care.” This enduring value guided the company’s actions in the face of the rapidly evolving challenge of the novel coronavirus disease. Avenue Living acted quickly to implement pandemic protocols and strategies to help residents, while also keeping their staff safe.
That Duty of Care does not stop at residents and team members; there is a constant Duty of Care to Avenue Living’s many investors, providing them with enduring value by protecting revenue and asset quality. The company is tremendously proud of its key performance indicators since the pandemic began – having suffered no COVID-related losses in rent collection and seeing a record number of lease renewals.
Here are some details about the actions Avenue Living has taken since the pandemic began.
On top of daily cleaning procedures, Avenue Living added steps to make routines even more rigorous. They increased time spent cleaning, as well as the level of disinfectant and sanitization in all properties and offices. Avenue Living retained visitor logs of everyone visiting offices and properties for suite viewings and implemented virtual viewings.
Avenue Living Raises Pay for The Company’s Front Line Workers
The people who serve customers directly – leasing specialists, regional administrators, suite turn specialists, and maintenance specialists are on the front lines during the pandemic. In early April, Avenue Living Communities (ALC) raised the wages of all in field, customer-facing employees by $2.00 per hour, indefinitely. The wage increase applies to hundreds of employees throughout Avenue Living’s entire portfolio of 19 centres.
ALC Community Task Force
Avenue Living established the ALC Community Task Force for residents that have been impacted by the outbreak to help with their day-to-day needs. Residents who need assistance with grocery shopping, dog walking or other challenges caused by self-isolation are encouraged to contact the Task Force.
Net Positive Employer
In a time when many Canadian companies were laying off staff, Avenue Living increased their workforce. The company steadily increased staff numbers over the past few months to ensure that all 400+ buildings across the portfolio are kept at peak quality levels. By increasing the number of staff, Avenue Living ensured it was well-prepared to service residents during these trying times.
As a proactive measure and show of support to residents, Avenue Living started the process of ensuring no renewals would face rent increases. The company froze all rent pricing for June renewals before government mandate. Additionally, Avenue Living Communities team members contacted residents with renewals effective April 1st, 2020 and May 1st, 2020 to notify them that any previously agreed to increases would be reduced to prior rents.
Prairie Relief Team
Avenue Living launched the Prairie Relief Team to respond to the needs of residents across its western Canadian portfolio in a timely fashion. The team provides residents with customized, flexible options for payment to ALC, and also responds with information for residents by sending them links to Provincial and Federal programs where there could be Government relief.
Weekly Payment Options for ALC Residents
The company introduced both weekly and semi-monthly payment options for residents who may need to better budget their finances during the challenges brought on by COVID-19. The company also started accepting rent by e-transfer via online banking.
$100,000 Food Bank Donation
As the pandemic continued to put strains on families across the country, Avenue Living looked for ways to be supportive to the wider community. The company donated a total of $100,000 to be distributed to various food banks in each of the company’s residential markets. This corporate social responsibility initiative is a continuation of the Avenue Giving Campaign, created to give back to the communities in which Avenue Living operates.
Special Appreciation for Front Line Workers Across the Prairies
Avenue Living Communities offered rental housing at a special price to the hard-working people across the Prairies. These were available to nurses, veterans, law enforcement and protection services workers, students and seniors. 275 of these suites in total were leased, with the majority rented at a 20 percent discount.