How Hamilton East Kiwanis Homes Takes Care of Tenants and Streamlines Their On-Call Process with AnswerPlus

Hamilton East Kiwanis Non-Profit Homes (HEK) helps vulnerable populations and low-income residents in Hamilton and Brantford secure safe, dignified and stable housing. For decades, they’ve been giving individuals and families the opportunity to call a house a home by providing sustainable, deeply affordable housing communities.

Since its incorporation in 1982, the registered non-profit organization has grown to serve approximately 3,500 tenants across 1,000 units. The majority of residents are families – some transitioning from shelters – looking to call Hamilton home for the long-term.

The Challenge: Addressing Affordable Housing Needs Around The Clock

The City of Hamilton is considered the third least affordable community in Canada in terms of housing affordability. In the last decade, Canada has been losing affordable rental units far faster than new ones are being built. As the demand for affordable housing has grown over the years, so has the organization’s portfolio. HEK is committed to building 1,000 new units by 2028, and recently purchased a seniors apartment building in West Hamilton to prevent further loss of affordable housing in the city.

Tenants of HEK can call the maintenance service line 24 hours a day to make an emergency maintenance request. Meg Burgess, Manager of Facilities and Maintenance Services works diligently alongside her team of 12 people to keep all of the properties safe and well-maintained.

“We love what we do, but it can be challenging, and emergencies are not limited to business hours.” Meg said, “Our staff need time to rest in the evenings and overnight. Answering the phones 24/7 would negatively affect our teams’ work-life balance, overall productive, and customer service.”

Our Solution: Flexibility To Focus On Core Objectives

Back in 2008, HEK started working with AnswerPlus to streamline their on-call process so that their own staff didn’t have to be on call 24/7. As a small team with big plans, the staff at HEK are exceptionally busy and it’s important that they can focus their energy and efforts where it’s needed most.

When AnswerPlus steps in to triage tenant requests after hours, during weekends, and as needed, we make the transition easy for their team. “Getting that morning report gives us a clear picture of who called, exactly what was done, and what contractors we need to follow-up with in the morning.” Meg said, “It helps the team better prioritize their day because if a pipe bursts at midnight, they know that’s where they’re starting.”

In addition to giving staff a well-deserved break overnight, we provide on- demand coverage during lunch breaks and staff meetings. The HEK team loves the flexibility AnswerPlus offers because it allows them to maximize their internal resources.

“Just last year, we still had a staff member stationed exclusively at the front desk, simply to answer the main line.” Meg said, “This was not the best use of their skills or time. So, we’ve redirected the front desk line to AnswerPlus more often, freeing that staff member to take on new tasks and contribute in a more meaningful way. It’s been a very positive change.”

Growing Without The Strain

Although HEK’s partnership with AnswerPlus started with a simple pager that staff passed around, as their tenant base grew, their needs evolved. “We want to make sure every tenant receives consistent service, regardless of which property they live in and who the property manager is.” said Meg. But this got a bit more complicated when their new build came online in 2022, and again after acquiring a senior’s building in 2023.

“Each of these buildings came with a set of contractors. It was important to maintain these contractors for warranty purposes at the new build, but also out of respect for the existing business relationships between vendors and the senior’s property.” Meg explained, “So, we worked with our account manager to develop different sets of instructions for the new properties. Whenever there are unique situations, AnswerPlus is great to work with.”

As the team at HEK focuses on future projects to bring more affordable housing to the city, they know regardless of how complex their needs become, they can count on their dedicated account manager. “We’re very fortunate to have Simon assigned to our account,” Meg emphasized, “he is always very quick to respond, providing tailored solutions and finding new ways to rework our system to better serve our tenants and team.”