With $1.6 billion assets under management that include 10,000 residential rental units, Avenue Living Asset Management acted rapidly during the pandemic to ensure the safety of both residents and team members.
We own and operate 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 our residents working on the front lines during this deeply unsettling time — our team members became front line workers as well.
One of the core beliefs that Avenue Living was founded on is “Duty of Care.” This enduring value guided us as we faced the rapidly evolving challenge of the novel coronavirus disease. We acted quickly to implement pandemic protocols and strategies to help our residents, while also keeping our staff safe.
We also have a constant Duty of Care to our investors, to protect our revenue and the future of our business. We are tremendously proud of our key performance indicators since the pandemic began – we haven’t suffered any Covid-related losses in rent collection and we have seen a record number of lease renewals.
Here are some details about the actions we’ve taken since the pandemic began.
On top of our daily cleaning procedures, Avenue Living added steps to make our routines even more rigorous. We increased time spent cleaning and our level of disinfectant and sanitization in our properties and offices. We also retained visitor logs of everyone visiting our offices and our properties for suite viewings before switching to virtual viewings.
Avenue Living Raises Pay For The Company’s Front Line Workers
The people who serve our customers directly – leasing specialists, regional administrators, suite turn specialists and work order and maintenance specialists are on the front lines during the pandemic. In early April, Avenue Living Communities 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.
In a time when many Canadian companies were laying off staff, Avenue Living remains a net positive employer. 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. Increasing the number of staff ensured we were well-prepared to service our residents during these trying times.
As a proactive measure and show of support to our residents, Avenue Living started the process of ensuring no renewals would face rent increases. We froze all rent pricing for June renewals before government mandate. Additionally, we contacted residents with renewals effective April 1st, 2020 and May 1st, 2020 to notify them that any previously agreed to increases will be reduced down 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 wanted to support 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
We 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 of them rented at a 20 per cent discount.