March 5, 2024 - Industry News

IHM Celebrating International Women's Week - Tracy Geddes, A.I.H.M. 

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Tracy Geddes, A.I.H.M. 

Housing Administrator
Niagara Region

My role is to provide legislative and financial over-site to a portfolio of Co-operatives, Non-Profits and Indigenous Housing in the Niagara area.    

What led you to a career in property management?

I was a single Mother living in Halam Park Co-op in Hamilton ON.  I attended my first General Membership Meeting, which was a requisitioned meeting to overturn and replace the Board of Directors.  It was so interesting and empowering to know that I could effect change where I lived.  I immediately put my name forth for the Board, and was hooked! After a few years on the Board, a nearby Co-op was advertising for a maternity leave replacement for their Staff person.  My Housing Co-ordinator at Halam sent me the listing, saying she thought I would be good at it, and this was my opportunity to try it out.  That maternity leave coverage turned into an engaging and rewarding 20 plus year career.  

How many years have you worked in this profession?

I started in Housing on February 4th, 2002.  

What was your first job?

My first role was as a Housing Co-ordinator at a 48 unit town house complex on the Hamilton Mountain.   I was there for five years, and I learned so much about housing, and how I wanted to do the job.  The Board was supportive of my efforts there, and receptive to my ideas, while being an engaged Board who really cared for their community.   

What is your proudest professional moment?

One of my proudest moments while working in housing was co-chairing the 2019 London AGM for CHF Canada with a colleague from BC.  Standing at the front of the room with Cassia, in front of 600 or so of our peers, after an active week of teaching workshops and liaising with hundreds of people invested in social housing was a career high I won't soon forget!  

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is trying to keep housing affordable.   With the rising costs of materials, average market rents, and lack of government funding, keeping up with repairs and unit turnover becomes costly.  Increasing rents to cover increased expenses makes housing no longer affordable, which affects some of our most vulnerable tenants as they struggle to meet housing and living expenses.   

Who do you consider a mentor or hero?

I have two people who have had the biggest influence on me, in my housing career.  My mentor when starting out was Kathy Dimassi, the Housing Co-ordinator at the very first Co-op I lived in.  Watching her and being guided by her while I was on the Board taught me so much.  When she approached me with the job advertisement for my first property management job, she was my  example of how to do the job with integrity, respect, and attention to detail.  I modeled myself after her, and, with her encouragement and support, found my own path in how I approached the job.  She set the bar high, not only for me, but for herself as well.  

Dave Smart, the Executive Director at the Golden Horseshoe CHF taught me how to have fun in the job.  He showed me that sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously, and at the core of everything, our role is to ensure the people who reside in our properties have safe, affordable housing and feel like part of a community.  He reminded me that our job is to maintain the structure of the buildings, but those buildings are housed by people, and not to forget the human factor.  

What is the best advice you ever received?

Remove emotion and focus on the process.

With many people living in a shared space, conflict is inevitable.  Conflict between neighbours; conflict when you don't give someone what they want; conflict when you have to enforce rules.  Don't let it get personal.  

What advice would you give to those entering the property management profession?

Never stop learning.  Learn from your peers.  Learn from your tenants.  Learn from professionals.   Life is change, and especially in housing.  Legislation changes, demographics of your communities change, government changes.  Don't be afraid to learn new processes.  

What changes have you seen in property management in recent years?

Recently, with the growth of our population, the lack of affordable housing funding, and lack of adequate stock, property management has become more difficult.  We in property management are trying to work towards improving the affordability, accessibility, security, safety and quality of housing across all sectors.  It's difficult to do without support from our government.    

What changes do you see facing this profession in the future?

I believe that, if we don't see real buy-in from our elected leaders, as well as an increase in social housing funding, we could see some serious issues with housing in later years.  Studies show there is a direct link between persons living in 'unaffordable' housing, and issues such as poor health, mental health issues, lack of resources, food insecurity, etc.  I believe Property Managers are going to be required to assist and handle tenants with these issues during the execution of our regular duties.   

Fun fact you wish to share:

I'm an avid, and competitive, pool player.  Mostly 8 ball, but sometimes 9 ball and 10 ball.  My team and I travel to Niagara Falls each spring to play in the Canadians, London Ontario in November to play in the Southwestern Ontario Shootout, and in May we head to Las Vegas to play in the Nationals.  I play at least three times a week, and if I had a pool table at home, I'd probably never leave my house!