Competency Standards for the First Nations Housing Professional (FNHP)

Definition of a First Nations Housing Professional

A First Nations housing professional is someone who works in a First Nations community and has the responsibility for the management of human resources, financial resources and programs related to housing. A housing professional will adopt many different roles: planner, technician, administrator, supervisor, communicator and financial officer.

He or she will be involved in planning; establishing and following housing policies; operations management; financial management including preparing budgets, proposal and reports; managing communications and Client relations; managing assets; overseeing new construction and renovation; and program administration.

Titles used to designate a First Nations Housing Professional may include CEO, Executive Director, Housing Director, Housing Manager, and Housing Coordinator.

Why do we need professional standards?

Users of the services of a housing professional have a right to expect that those providing relevant services are competent. The establishment of competency standards provides a means to make relevant information available to the users of the services of a housing professional regarding the capacities and expertise of the individual practitioner.

Professional standards represent the minimum level of performance that professions use to evaluate the practice of those certified as professionals. They are intended to guide the daily practice of all members. While the expectation is that members will strive to exceed the requirements set forth in the standards, they set the benchmark that establishes the levels below which conduct or performance is unacceptable.

Standards for housing professionals are developed to:

  • assure community members of professional, accountable and ethical practice;
  • serve as a guide to the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to practice housing management;
  • define the realm of practice of housing professionals;
  • provide a clear and transparent standard against which the conduct of ethical practice and competencies of housing professionals can be evaluated; and
  • promote the role of the housing professional.

What is a competency standard?

Competency standards attempt to capture the various dimensions that, when taken together, account for ‘competent’ performance. They describe the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for practice by individual housing professionals. Competency standards may be used for a variety of purposes in addition to the assessment of the knowledge, expertise and capacities of the individual practitioner required for regulating entry and ongoing membership within the profession.

They provide a valuable source of information to the “consumers” of professional housing management services that will ultimately aid in increasing the profile and professional reputation of housing professionals. They provide guidance to the design and delivery of appropriate educational curricula and continuous professional learning programs for the housing management profession.

They can aid in establishing the minimum education and experience standards for entry into the professional field of practice and the profession for those considering a career in housing management. They can inform the process of evaluation of educational programming for accreditation purposes. Finally, they can provide a basis for the mutual recognition of competency across borders.

A framework for the ongoing review of standards

Having rigorous and relevant competencies will assist in strengthening First Nations housing management and related services. The competency framework in this report has the potential to further develop the competencies in years to come. The framework proposed provides for an ongoing review of competency standards. The reviews, which would take place at least once every five years, will allow an assessment of market demands and expectations of First Nations housing professionals.

Domains

  • First Nations Housing History, Culture and Issues
  • First Nations Housing Construction and Infrastructure Elements
  • Housing Leadership, Plans, Policy and Accountability
  • Management of Housing Programs
  • Client Relations
  • Housing Management Functional Supports
  • Professionalism and Ethics
  • Critical Skills

DETAILED COMPETENCIES BY DOMAINS

1. First Nations Housing History, Culture, and Issues

  • 1.1 History and Legislation
  • 1.1.1 Understand the history, structure and legislation pertaining to First Nations housing services.
  • 1.1.2 Understand and be able to incorporate First Nations perspectives in the provision of housing and related services.
  • 1.1.3 Understand how legislation and laws influence housing policy and planning.
  • 1.1.4 Understand methods for implementing housing policy within the framework of the law, including housing regulations and standards, community development processes and plans, and other implementation techniques.
  • 1.1.5 Be able to identify and utilize First Nations community support structures in the provision of housing.

1.2 Programs and Funding

  • 1.2.1 Understand different housing programs and funding available to a community.
  • 1.2.2 Be able to identify the true cost of housing programs and services.
  • 1.2.3 Understand how to develop, model, and implement a payment regime for housing programs and services.
  • 1.2.4 Understand the financial and housing portfolio aspects of charging for housing programs and services.
  • 1.2.5 Understand the benefits and risks of charging and collecting for housing programs and services, including the points to consider before charging and collecting for housing programs and services.

1.3 Cultural Considerations

  • 1.3.1 Understand the traditional and community role of decision-making at the individual, family, and community level.
  • 1.3.2 Be able to utilize the understanding of community and family histories and decision-making to engage in housing planning and provide related services.
  • 1.3.3 Understand the protocols with respect to approaching the Chief and Council and Elders.
  • 1.3.4 Understand the limitations of one’s own knowledge and accept and incorporate new ways of respecting and understanding with regard to First Nations housing needs and requirements.
  • 1.3.5 Be able to incorporate traditional approaches and protocols as instructed by community (e.g. Elder).
  • 1.3.6 Understand First Nations teachings of trust, respect, honour, honesty, humility, courage and know how to apply them when interacting with others.

1.4 Current Developments and Issues

  • 1.4.1 Understand the conditions that may be encountered in a First Nations community.
  • 1.4.2 Understand the various stakeholders who are involved in a First Nations community.
  • 1.4.3 Understand the factors that influence current housing infrastructure issues.
  • 1.4.4 Understand and be able to assess housing and infrastructure issues.
  • 1.4.5 Understand how to use strategic planning to identify and address issues to achieve improved housing outcomes.
  • 1.4.6 Be able to engage First Nations leaders as partners to identify and acquire information on housing issues and needs.

2. First Nations Housing Construction and Infrastructure

  • 2.1 Key Elements of Housing Construction
  • 2.1.1 Understand housing construction and renovation standards and best practices, including the elements of housing construction and safety.
  • 2.1.2 Understand material and labour costs.
  • 2.1.3 Understand fundamental heating, mechanical and electrical systems.
  • 2.1.4 Understand basic landscaping principles and issues.
  • 2.1.5 Understand basic environmental implications as they pertain to housing and sound environmental business practices.
  • 2.1.6 Understand the requirements of applicable building codes and knowledge of various levels of inspection.
  • 2.1.7 Be able to interpret drafting and blueprint documents.
  • 2.1.8 Be able to participate in construction coordination, scheduling and contract administration.

2.2 Housing Infrastructure

  • 2.2.1 Understand housing infrastructure and its importance.
  • 2.2.2 Understand different housing and infrastructure options.
  • 2.2.3 Understand land survey methods, applications and processes.
  • 2.2.4 Be able to apply the components of property management.
  • 2.2.5 Be able to inventory housing and infrastructure assets.

2.3 Housing Maintenance

  • 2.3.1 Understand maintenance management philosophy, principles, and strategies and be familiar with the terms and definitions used in housing maintenance.
  • 2.3.2 Understand the different types of inspections and maintenance requirements, including the forms related to inspection and maintenance routines and their use.
  • 2.3.3 Understand obstacles to effective maintenance management.
  • 2.3.4 Be able to determine work priorities based on general, urgent and emergency guidelines, and know how to incorporate them into a maintenance management system based on priority, schedules, goals, cost estimation, inventory and budget.
  • 2.3.5 Be able to produce an immediate maintenance work plan or work order and finalize an annual maintenance work plan.
  • 2.3.6 Be able to prepare and present a 3-year community specific maintenance plan.
  • 2.3.7 Be able to prepare and present a Capital Replacement Plan (CRP), including identifying the steps involved, the sources, and the procedures for collecting CRP information.
  • 2.3.8 Understand how to use forecasting to predict variables in capital replacement.
  • 2.3.9 Understand the leadership approval process.

2.4 Project Proposals

  • 2.4.1 Understand how to identify the scope of a housing proposal project, including different housing and infrastructure options and the criteria or conditions to be used for a housing proposal project.
  • 2.4.2 Understand how to interpret community profile and historical demographic data.
  • 2.4.3 Possess technical writing and form identification skills as they relate to project proposals, including knowledge of technical writing guidelines.
  • 2.4.4 Understand the steps required to submit a housing proposal to stakeholder parties.
  • 2.4.5 Understand environmental impact and energy opportunities for housing proposals and other considerations that may impact a proposal.
  • 2.4.6 Understand sustainability and environmental issues in technology planning.

2.5 Tenders and Project Management

  • 2.5.1 Understand the fundamental components of the tendering process, including the types of contracts, tendering problems and insurance requirements.
  • 2.5.2 Be able to set up service contracts.
  • 2.5.3 Be able to set up a tendering document, including the tender selection process, contracting guidelines and the contract award process.
  • 2.5.4 Understand the construction and contract management process including different types of contracts and agreements.
  • 2.5.5 Be able to use problem solving methods for contract management.
  • 2.5.6 Understand the construction completion process.
  • 2.5.7 Understand the fundamental components of project management, including terms associated with project management, the key areas of project management, and basic project management practices.
  • 2.5.8 Be able to use the tools available in project management.
  • 2.5.9 Understand the role of a project manager in construction management.
  • 2.5.10 Understand the five phases of construction project management.
  • 2.5.11 Be able to develop a project charter and communication plan.
  • 2.5.12 Be able to prepare a tendering document and risk management plan.
  • 2.5.13 Be able to prepare resource and cost tracking data.

3. Housing Leadership, Plans, Policy and Accountability

  • 3.1 Housing Governance
  • 3.1.1 Understand the process and structure of governance in First Nations, along with the legal, functional, and political roles and responsibilities of the Chief and Council.
  • 3.1.2 Understand the relationships between Chief and Council, community members and staff.
  • 3.1.3 Understand the principles and processes of Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments and agencies as they relate to housing management.
  • 3.1.4 Be able to report on continuous improvement opportunities for First Nations housing governance and provide advice as required.

3.2 Role of the Housing Manager

  • 3.2.1 Understand the role of the housing manager in relation to other stakeholders.
  • 3.2.2 Be able to ensure the housing manager role, as defined by a job description, is understood by other stakeholders.
  • 3.2.3 Understand strategies required for working with Chief and Council.
  • 3.2.4 Be able to establish and use desirable structures and property management practices to support the development and delivery of housing programs.

3.3 Strategy and Decision-making

  • 3.3.1 Understand the models used in decision-making and problem-solving, identify improvements, where possible, and apply the model.
  • 3.3.2 Understand the value and critical elements of a strategic plan.
  • 3.3.3 Be able to incorporate and integrate key components of strategic planning such as vision and mission statement development, SWOT analysis, issue identification, strategy development, implementation and innovation in the strategic planning process.
  • 3.3.4 Be able to involve staff and relevant community members in the strategic planning process.
  • 3.3.5 Be able to develop a strategic plan to set direction for the operational plan.

3.4 Plans

  • 3.4.1 Understand how to develop and use operational plans to support approved strategy.
  • 3.4.2 Develop policies and processes for long and shorter term organizational and community housing planning.
  • 3.4.3 Be able to develop and implement operational plans with staff.
  • 3.4.4 Be able to develop business cases, as required, to support implementation of the operational plan.
  • 3.4.5 Be able to link the operational plans to individual staff work plans and performance reviews.
  • 3.4.6 Be able to develop progress reports and plans, and communicate with the community and other relevant stakeholders.

3.5 Policy

  • 3.5.1 Understand how policy, board motions and by-laws are developed and implemented.
  • 3.5.2 Identify the need for new policy or improvements to existing policy.
  • 3.5.3 Be able to provide advice on business, treaty/self-government issues, alternative policy issues and compliance issues on housing matters, as required.
  • 3.5.4 Be able to develop and recommend policy options with supporting analysis as appropriate.

3.6 Accountability

  • 3.6.1 Demonstrate an understanding of accountability concepts and practices, and the role of the stakeholders involved in housing.
  • 3.6.2 Be able to identify, communicate and implement accountability requirements.
  • 3.6.3 Be able to develop acceptable evaluation criteria for performance management, conduct evaluation processes on a regular basis, and prepare reports for stakeholders.

4. Management of Housing Programs

  • 4.1 Community Engagement and Needs
  • 4.1.1 Understand better practices to engage community members and understand community housing needs.
  • 4.1.2 Be able to establish policies and practices to get community input for planning and general improvements and inform members of housing program activities.
  • 4.1.3. Be able to use the information from engagement and needs activities to support program development and improve communications.

4.2 Program Development

  • 4.2.1 Understand the key activities of program development.
  • 4.2.2 Understand successful approaches that have been implemented to address the housing needs of First Nations peoples, locally, regionally or nationally.
  • 4.2.3 Understand how to gather, analyze and apply research principles and information.
  • 4.2.4 Be able to undertake community assessments and asset mapping.
  • 4.2.5 Be able to collect, analyze and apply information including data, concepts and theories, and make evidence-based decisions.
  • 4.2.6 Be able to apply the components and concepts of land tenure and property management in developing programs.
  • 4.2.7 Be able to facilitate others to apply the mission and priorities of the organization in developing a program.
  • 4.2.8 Be able to develop a program with goals, deliverables, time lines and budgets while maximizing available resources.
  • 4.2.9 Understand how and when to use registered professional advice (legal, architects, engineers, environmental specialists).

4.3 Funding, Proposals and Agreements

  • 4.3.1 Be able to identify potential sources of revenue for program development, both governmental and non-governmental.
  • 4.3.2 Understand how to access those sources of revenue through partnerships, sponsorships and other forms of relationships.
  • 4.3.3 Be able to demonstrate an understanding of funding arrangements and categories.
  • 4.3.4 Be able to develop proposals to support program development.
  • 4.3.5 Be able to negotiate and manage funding arrangements with a financial partner.

4.4 Program Management

  • 4.4.1 Understand and be able to apply the concepts underlying program management.
  • 4.4.2 Be able to initiate a process for the development and implementation of specific policies and processes to support a program.
  • 4.4.3 Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the leasing processes and requirements.
  • 4.4.4 Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the function of private financial institutions and their role in the provision of housing.
  • 4.4.5 Be able to facilitate the systems required for processing applications and loans.
  • 4.4.6 Understand successful practices for acquisition and application of facilities, equipment and services.
  • 4.4.7 Understand appropriate procurement processes and how to write a request for proposal (RFP) for services.
  • 4.4.8 Be able to facilitate the tendering process and procedures.
  • 4.4.9 Be able to monitor and manage contracts.
  • 4.4.10 Understand the principles behind Client leases, along with the requirements precedent to a legal document.
  • 4.4.11 Understand the protocols required for victims of violence.
  • 4.4.12 Understand the roles required for emergency measures protocols and manuals.
  • 4.4.13 Understand collection processes and arrears management.
  • 4.4.14 Be able to develop, maintain and implement a rent and mortgage collections policy, and an arrears and eviction policy.
  • 4.4.15 Be able to develop and maintain an appeals procedure.
  • 4.4.16 Be able to develop an applicable Housing Manual.
  • 4.4.17 Be able to deal with various Client situations through the development of applicable policy.
  • 4.4.18 Be able to develop and provide relevant and accurate reports on the housing program.
  • 4.4.19 Be able to conduct a program review and make recommendations for improvement.

4.5 Program Reporting and Communications

  • 4.5.1 Understand the various types of communication practices and value of content obtained from community engagement, and message and positing that needs to be developed for targeted audiences.
  • 4.5.2 Be able to evaluate current member communications and stakeholder efforts and develop a plan for improvement.
  • 4.5.3 Be able to develop a communications strategy and implement a range of communications activities.
  • 4.5.4 Understand the use of performance indicators in the application of Performance Measurement and Reporting.
  • 4.5.5 Understand the scope of requirements to produce results based reports.
  • 4.5.6 Be able to develop desired outcomes or goals and performance indicators.
  • 4.5.7 Be able to prepare reports that align with plans.
  • 4.5.8 Be able to identify and undertake compliance activities to meet special reporting requirements.
  • 4.5.9 Be able to manage assigned assets efficiently and effectively.

5. Client Relations

  • 5.1 Working with Clients
  • 5.1.1 Understand the different types of Clients, issues related to Client relations, and practices necessary to maintain good Client relations.
  • 5.1.2 Be able to evaluate current Client relations efforts, and develop, implement and manage a Client relations program.
  • 5.1.3 Be able to develop and implement a Client onboarding/orientation process.
  • 5.1.4 Be able to deal with general enquiries in a professional manner.
  • 5.1.5 Be able to report on Client relations compliance, appeals and identification of improvement opportunities for the program and its policies.

5.2 Disputes with Clients

  • 5.2.1 Understand how conflict can be constructive as long as it is managed effectively, directly and quickly, and how to deal with difficult situations.
  • 5.2.2 Understand processes to deal with disputes arising from managing the housing program.
  • 5.2.3 Be able to develop and implement a dispute resolution mechanism.
  • 5.2.4 Be able to follow guidelines and steps to prevent conflict and deal with conflict between Clients and within a team.
  • 5.2.5 Be able to use tools to understand difficult situations and take positive steps to reducing conflict.

6. Housing Management Functional Supports

  • 6.1 Human Resources
  • 6.1.1 Understand basic knowledge of human resources principles and practices.
  • 6.1.2 Understand relevant labour law and employment practices.
  • 6.1.3 Be able to assess workload and develop HR plans, job descriptions and salary scales.
  • 6.1.4 Be able to handle a recruitment and termination process.
  • 6.1.5 Be able to handle the performance evaluation process and determine learning requirements.
  • 6.1.6 Be able to train and supervise staff and facilitate boards and committees to achieve approved plans.

6.2 Financial Management

  • 6.2.1 Understand basic knowledge of accounting concepts, principles and standards.
  • 6.2.2 Understand the role and importance of financial and management accounting for a housing program.
  • 6.2.3 Understand budgets, transactions and accruals, financial statements, balance sheets, valuation of capital assets, audits and other financial activities.
  • 6.2.4 Be able to prepare: a budget; revenue and expenditure statement; cash flow statement; and special reports for costing of services.
  • 6.2.5 Be able to use financial information to support efficient and effective planning, decision-making and reporting.
  • 6.2.6 Be able to work with unique financial arrangements for First Nations housing with other financial parties.
  • 6.2.7 Be able to evaluate financial and management accounting efforts and identify opportunities for improvement.

6.3 Information and Technology

  • 6.3.1 Understand necessary software applications and reporting systems to manage, monitor and report on housing program activities.
  • 6.3.2 Understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality and privacy principles where appropriate as it relates to communications, data entry and storage, and records/document management.
  • 6.3.3 Be able to develop and enforce appropriate information storage and management systems and polices.
  • 6.3.4 Be able to use appropriate computers to complete work and make informed decisions and keep current on housing related technological applications.

6.4 Legal

  • 6.4.1 Understand relevant provincial, federal and First Nation legislation implications for housing programs.
  • 6.4.2 Understand the issues and legal background surrounding matrimonial property rights, wills and estates.
  • 6.4.3 Be able to communicate to community members their rights, responsibilities and roles in terms of housing programs.
  • 6.4.4 Understand legal actions available to communities.
  • 6.4.5 Understand the process of accepting payment after legal action has begun.
  • 6.4.6 Understand the principles behind Client leases, along with the requirements precedent to a legal document.
  • 6.4.7 Be able to understand the role and use of contracts, and manage contractual arrangements.

6.5 Quality, Benchmarking and Assurance

  • 6.5.1 Understand the key elements and processes of continuous quality improvement.
  • 6.5.2 Be able to evaluate current policy and practices and, through benchmarking, identify opportunities for improvement.
  • 6.5.3 Be able to apply quality principles and objectives and promote them with others
  • 6.5.4 Understand the importance of assurance activities to identify, manage and/or mitigate risks.
  • 6.5.5 Be able to identify risks to program success and develop plans to mitigate.
  • 6.5.6 Understand the role of insurance and provide for insurance coverage.

7. Professionalism and Ethics

  • 7.1 Professionalism
  • 7.1.1 Be able to recognize one’s own assumptions, values and beliefs and show that you have integrity and are completely reliable.
  • 7.1.2 Be able to demonstrate competence, high quality work habits and a dedication to community and housing development.
  • 7.1.3 Be able to interact respectfully with all people, including staff, community members, leadership and stakeholders.
  • 7.1.4 Be able to create a positive and productive working environment.

7.2 Continuous Learning and Mentoring

  • 7.2.1 Understand self-assessment, mentoring and staff development techniques and practices.
  • 7.2.2 Be able to stay current on, and incorporate new housing management information and knowledge to ensure quality services are provided to the community.
  • 7.2.3 Be able to show how your continuous learning plans align with achieving your organization’s strategies.

7.3 Ethical Considerations

  • 7.3.1 Understand ethical concepts, responsibilities and dilemmas for the housing professional.
  • 7.3.2 Be able to demonstrate adherence to established or desirable ethical standards.
  • 7.3.3 Be able to set highest standards for self and others and monitor practice.
  • 7.3.4 Be able to apply an effective process in dealing with an ethical issue.

8. Critical Skills

  • 8.1 Leadership and Facilitation
  • 8.1.1 Understand the knowledge and abilities of leadership necessary to plan and implement strategy, programs and policies.
  • 8.1.2 Understand practices to build capacity in an organization.
  • 8.1.3 Understand practices to facilitate situations and engender commitment.
  • 8.1.4 Be able to motivate, inspire and facilitate others to identify opportunities and solve problems to successfully implement the mission and build capacity.
  • 8.1.5 Be able to anticipate, respond and adapt approaches and styles to different leadership demands.
  • 8.1.6 Be able to provide self-direction and self-motivation and demonstrate commitment to the housing programs.
  • 8.1.7 Be able to make effective presentations and use effective communication skills.
  • 8.1.8 Be able to demonstrate self-confidence, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, good listening skills, and show appreciation.

8.2 Conceptual Skills

  • 8.2.1 Understand decision-making tools and their applications in developing problem-solving strategies using a systems thinking approach.
  • 8.2.2 Be able to apply strategic integrative analysis to evaluation of products, services and processes.
  • 8.2.3 Be able to identify and analyze situations and problems such that viable solutions are found, approaching tasks and problems such that the total system and strategies are taken into account by self and others.

8.3 Working with Change

  • 8.3.1 Understand the stages of change and ways to guide and manage change, consistent with the vision and values of the organization.
  • 8.3.2 Be able to use change management processes to benefit the housing program, involve key stakeholders and sustain positive changes.

8.4 Working Together

  • 8.4.1 Understand team building techniques and dynamics
  • 8.4.2 Be able to apply practices to facilitate a team based approach within housing programs.
  • 8.4.3 Be able to resolve conflict in the organization using interest based conflict resolution and mediation techniques.

8.5 Managing Meetings

  • 8.5.1 Understand the better practices necessary for efficient and effective meetings.
  • 8.5.2 Be able to plan, run and participate in efficient and effective meetings.

8.6 Innovation and creativity

  • 8.6.1 Understand successful practices to establish innovation and creativity environments.
  • 8.6.2 Be able to implement innovative and creative policies, services and practices.
  • 8.6.3 Be able to create an environment where innovation and creativity are encouraged in the organization and lead by example.

8.7 Strategic Alliances and Partnerships

  • 8.7.1 Understand the importance of alliances and partnerships to support collaborative efforts, overcome barriers, and reach agreements.
  • 8.7.2 Be able to evaluate efforts to establish and operate strategic alliances and partnerships, and, through benchmarking, identify opportunities for improvement.
  • 8.7.3 Be able to develop and work with alliances and partnerships to support collaboration