A Message from the Chief Executive Officer – May 2022
Like so many things in life, organizational development is not linear. Some days there are breakthroughs and progress we can all see. Other days, there is progress that is less visible. And still other days, there are setbacks, some highly visible and others less so. This is certainly what we have been experiencing at Archway over the past two years and what we’ve seen thus far in 2022.
While struggling to keep up with the many challenges related to the pandemic, we’ve worked to strengthen the organization and continue to deliver more housing and better services to our community. We’ve had some great successes, such as completing the lease-up of a new apartment community in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic (Flats at Two Creeks in Lakewood) and receiving two tax credit awards in 2021, for Robinson Place (Lakewood) and the Johnson & Wales redevelopment (Denver).
We’ve also faced significant challenges and setbacks. Almost as soon as we began construction on Robinson Place – after nearly four years of work to get to that point – we were sued by neighbors who invoked a 75-year-old restrictive covenant in their fight to preserve their backyard views. Though we ultimately prevailed, this lawsuit cost us two months of time and energy and over $100,000 in legal bills. We’ve lost several residents to drug overdoses and other health issues over the past two years, a reality of our business that we never fully acclimate to. We’ve been rejected in countless funding requests, though we believe the merits of our asks and needs are extremely compelling. The list goes on, but you get the idea.
Thus, though we can see that Archway is in fact progressing as an organization, it’s not always obvious, and there are many challenges and even heartbreaks along the way.
For 2022, we set goals connected to Archway becoming “Bigger, Stronger and Better.” These included:
- Positioning ourselves to grow our portfolio from 650 units to over 1,000 units by the end of 2024
- Expanding our development pipeline
- Strengthening our team
- Growing our cash position (to $5M) and asset base (to $120M)
- Raising $1M in funds to support our operations (primarily services)
- Completing Community Needs Assessments at all of our properties
One third of the way through 2022, we can say that in many ways, we’ve made great strides, and yes, of course, we have experienced our share of setbacks.
We are on track to add 370 units to our portfolio by the end of 2024. We have added additional development sites to our pipeline, and we are in dialogue with other non-profit organizations about working with them to deliver still more housing units in collaboration with them over time. Yet the challenges to deliver housing are growing steadily: interest rates have risen dramatically in the last few months, and the cost of land and materials have skyrocketed over the past two years. This uncertainty around the costs of both materials and capital makes our work exponentially more challenging.
Over the course of 2021 and into 2022, we have bolstered our team considerably. We have added staff members in all our departments and are focusing on training and retention through enhanced benefits and improved feedback mechanisms. We know that if we want to compete with the best organizations for top talent, we must be a great place to work, a place that challenges our staff while also compensating them fairly and allowing for appropriate work-life balance through flexibility and empathy.
Under George Kelly’s leadership as our CFO, we have significantly strengthened our balance sheet over the past two years. By refinancing properties while interest rates were low over much of 2021, we freed up significant funds at the property level while reducing Archway’s overall debt service obligations.
We’ve fully implemented a variety of management systems to better track and manage our operations. This included ResMan for property operations, Google Workspace for all staff, Apricot 360 for Services Staff and Smartsheet for project management.
These are the sorts of things that represent progress, but in ways that are not obvious to outsiders, or even insiders. How can we measure their value on a day-to-day basis? And yet we know they help to make us Bigger, Stronger and Better.
As we head into the coming months, we will continue to keep our eyes on both organizational development and growth at the same time we tend to the business of moving our projects toward completion and effectively serving our residents. This is the duality faced by any organization: meeting the needs of the day while paying proper attention to ensuring that we are positioned to succeed over time. We ignore one to the benefit of the other at our peril.
I thank you for caring enough about us to have come this far in the newsletter and as always invite you to engage with us in whatever way you can! We are always open to new ideas, new relationships, new opportunities, and constructive criticism of our work.