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City hall spent $1 million on social housing software that it might never use


The financial fallout is much worse than originally thought as city hall considers abandoning the development of custom computer software after 12 years.

In 2011, London, Ont. decided to lead an eight-community Collaborative Housing Initiative (CHI) to oversee development of specialized software to track social housing applicants and programs.

The intent was to replace a combination of Excel, Access, and Adobe PDF files used by most social housing organizations at the time.

It would also maintain housing waitlists and prepare reports to the province.

However, a dozen years later, only Hamilton and the Region of Waterloo have partially rolled out the software.

To date, neither the backend system nor any of the software modules have been implemented by London city hall.

According to an earlier report to council:

  1. The software is not aligned with technology and project management processes in the IT Department
  2. Evolving provincial regulations over the years would have required significant change requests
  3. Partner municipalities have different systems and priorities

After the software debacle was uncovered earlier this year, city council called on staff for a detailed accounting of the project and to recommend next steps.

The first update to council’s Community and Protective Services (CAPS) Committee reveals that civic administration vastly underestimated the financial impact to the city.

In May, civic administration initially reported contributing about $360,000 towards the CHI partnership of municipalities.

In reality, London spent almost triple that amount.

A detailed financial review has determined that London spent $1,244,681 on the project since 2014.

After subtracting $210,334 recovered from CHI partner municipalities, London’s net expenditure has been $1,034,347.

Asked if the public would be right to consider the situation a ‘boondoggle’, Coun. Elizabeth Peloza replied to CTV News, “When things fall through the cracks, absolutely the public has the opportunity, and are justified in asking if it was a boondoggle. To ask, ‘What happened?’ Those questions will be answered.”

Peloza will chair next week’s CAPS Committee meeting.

The need for software that can track housing applicants and programs remains, but city hall may soon cut ties with the costly and ineffective project.

According to the report, work to support the software implementation will be, “put on-hold while an overall project plan is developed, including an assessment of other potential solutions for London’s business needs.”

“We have 60 partners as well who would need housing software. Checking in with them to see what they would need,” explained Peloza.

In addition, the partnership of municipalities will be discontinued in 2024.

Membership of CHI included Windsor, Chatham-Kent, Hamilton, Halton Region, Region of Waterloo, and Ottawa.

The Regional Municipality of York left for unspecified reasons in 2022.

“All existing financial obligations related to the Housing Collaborative Initiative will be closed out and any existing contracts will not be renewed,” reads the report.

The CAPS Committee will consider the update on CHI at its meeting Nov. 14. Top Stories

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