Bringing CHI (NABCo) into the 21st Century #Celebrating50

December 14, 2023

The decade of 2011 to 2020, brought structural and operational changes which facilitated huge growth in the number of homes under CHI (NABCo) ownership and management, and a subsequent increase in staff numbers to support output.

The start of the decade brought new challenges to the organisation. The Capital Loan Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) in which 100% funding was granted for new housing projects was ceased in 2009 due to the economic crisis, and a new model Capital Advance Lease Funding (CALF) was introduced. CALF operates whereby 30% of the purchase price of a scheme is provided as a loan repayable after 30 years and the balancing 70% must be sourced from external financial institutions. This change meant CHI now had to service mortgage interest and capital repayments.

In 2010, CHI (NABCo) had circa 52 people on its payroll, half of which worked for its childcare facilities. There were about 1,600 homes in CHI management, in 2020 this number would be almost 3,500. Finance Manager, Janet Frazer, reflects on how different the organisation and work environment was at that time, “The organisation now is beyond recognition in comparison to 2010 in terms of size and structure. In head office, I was the only person in finance and the Executive Management team consisted of two people.” Janet continues, “Looking back, there were positives and negatives. Positives being the funding structures were simple and straightforward for acquisitions, the negatives were outdated systems and, at times, an excessively bureaucratic approach meant operations were manual and slow and controls were limited.”

Director of Finance, Mark Bolger, Finance Manager, Janet Frazer, Asset and Loans Finance Manager, Barbara Hannigan, and Treasury Manager, Gerry Maguire

2010 saw the retirement of the organisation’s founder and CEO, Bernard Thompson, and the appointment of a new leader of the organisation. Janet describes the period after Thompson’s retirement, “When Bernard retired in late 2010 there was a lot of change to follow. I will always have fond memories of working with the founder of the organisation whose passion for providing social housing was always deep rooted and at the core of his ambition for the organisation. Many staff had been there for a while and were used to how things had been done. The new managemnt structure focused on innovation and staff development."

Continuing the consolidation of co-operatives and the evolution of NABCo to CHI

Director of Corporate Services, Pat Moyne, joined in 2017, and was tasked with aggregating the smaller Dublin offices and sourcing a unified office space for CHI HQ which was situated on Baggot Street.

Pat explains, “As there was never really much investment in the building on Baggot Street it wasn’t the best place to bring guests into. It was a poor work environment for colleagues too. Not only were colleagues spread across several floors, but each floor was also split into smaller offices. So, they were siloed and we were growing out of the office space. The office layout was not as conducive to interaction as an open plan office environment nor was it as productive.”

The possibility of renovating Baggot Street was considered, and CHI engaged with an architect to evaluate the potential project. However, as a listed building, there were restrictions as to what could be changed. Extending and renovating would have not been cost effective nor would it have provided major improvements to the workspace.

Pat explains, “While we owned the building on Baggot Street, we’re not in the business of buying office properties, so the Board asked us to look at selling it and renting offices instead. The search for a suitable property began in late 2018 early 2019 and the fitout of Warrington Place was completed just before Christmas 2019. We moved into the new open plan office space in Warrington place in January 2020. We were there for about six weeks when Covid hit, and we were sent home!”

Director of Policy and Communications, Eoin Carroll, and Director of corporate Services, Pat Moyne

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