Community Connections | Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Aging Population, Children And Youth
Living Standards | Poverty, Housing

Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association (BOBHA)

Bishop O'Byrne Housing Association's main priority is to provide safe and affordable homes to vulnerable Calgarians; including working families, low income seniors and vulnerable adults, so that everyone has dignity and choice in all stages of life.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association (BOBHA) is a non-denominational charity, that, for over 40 years has been committed to providing safe and affordable housing to those who need it most. BOBHA is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and manages eight buildings throughout the city housing nearly 600 low-income Calgarians.

BOBHA believes that everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Safety and security at home are foundational to all other pursuits. Our organization supports the Housing First model and knows that a home is crucial in respecting and honouring the dignity and worth of individuals.

“When I was 17, I joined the Canadian Armed Forces, Army Reserve. Beer was available in our barracks for a nickel a can and, thus, I picked up the habit of drinking. It was difficult for me to keep a full-time job because of my drinking. I started working casual day labour jobs and living at a hostel for men. I never earned enough
money to get a proper home so I lived in parks during the summer and couch surfed in the winter. I was homeless
on and off over the years, living in fields or parks. In 2006, I was drinking fairly heavily but I had a good job
and was making enough to pay my rent. Then one day, out of nowhere, I had a brain aneurysm. I spent three months in a physiotherapy program and, thus, lost my apartment. Again, I found myself homeless….I found a safe and affordable home at Columbus Place (a building owned and operated by BOBHA) which gives me the security that I would never find on the street. No one deserves to live on the street. It is very volatile out there and most people turn to drugs and alcohol just to cope with the violence. Now I am a senior…If it wasn’t for the home I have here at Columbus Place, I would be back on the streets trying to survive. And believe me, I wouldn’t survive for long.”  –John, A BOBHA tenant

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BOBHA welcomed their first family into Columbus Place in November of 2014, just in time for Christmas. The family moved out of a shelter and into their own two-bedroom apartment “It’s great, it’s a big difference,” says the father from the family’s new living room. They lived at Inn from the Cold for eight months, after the father had lost his job. His wife has a medical condition and is unable to work, leaving the family destitute. “We are very grateful to Inn from the Cold,” he says. “But a shelter is not the right place for our son, or any kid.” Now that the family has a safe and affordable roof over their heads they can focus on their collective health, their son’s education and wellbeing. Putting roots down and having stability is something every family deserves, regardless of their income bracket.

Columbus Place is now home to 6 families, and expects to house more families once their new development is completed in 2020.

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“When my late husband passed away, I was left to start all over again, as I didn’t want to burden my children. I needed to find a place that I could afford and in my search for a home, I found BOBHA. I couldn’t have found a better place to live; the rent is affordable, I feel safe and I enjoy all the activities and services that BOBHA has to offer. I can finally relax. The low rent is such a special blessing.” – Noreen, A BOBHA tenant

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“Being able to pay for your own home, makes you feel like a regular person and gives you that sense of dignity that every human being deserves. Every month we pay our rent with pride, knowing we are not receiving handouts, although being given that helping hand from BOBHA makes all the difference. I can’t tell you how joyful it is to be able to invite friends over for tea. I am very humbled to have a place of my own thanks to BOBHA – everyone here is extremely grateful.”

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 “I thank God that I have a home to run to when I get caught in the rain. I take one day at a time, I concentrate what I have and I rely on my positive supports. I am thankful that Bishop O’Byrne Housing gave me a second chance and [my Tenant Resource Person] provided me with resources on my journey to stay sober.” – A BOBHA tenant

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Our Impact

What We Do

Affordable Housing:   Since its inception in 1975, BOBHA has been providing affordable housing to those seniors most in need throughout the city of Calgary. BOBHA recognizes that the need for affordable housing stretches across our community and that seniors, those who are working full-time and those on social assistance can all struggle to pay market rents. In 2014, BOBHA opened Columbus Place in Bridgeland and opened its doors to low-income families, seniors and others in need of affordable housing. Fostering an inter-generational community wherein low-income seniors live next to families and vulnerable individuals promotes a strong and diverse community for our tenants.

We now serve a diverse mix of tenants at Columbus Place contributing to the strength and vibrancy of our community. BOBHA houses three broad communities; ‘seniors’, ‘working poor’ and ‘vulnerable’ recognizing that many tenants fit into multiple categories and that there are those in need of housing may not fit any category well. The average household income is $22,510 at Columbus Place and Principal Tenants range in age from 21 to 93 and there are six families with children under the age of 18.

BOBHA provides affordable housing with supports and actively collaborates with community organizations to provide tenants access to an array of social, financial, physical, spiritual and emotional supports.

In Calgary there are currently 3,222 homeless individuals and 15,600 households in extreme housing need. Greater affordable housing capacity is needed to provide housing both to individuals who are currently homeless and to help those in extreme housing need.

On March 16, 2018 The Province of Alberta announced their $6M + land commitment to BOBHA’s new affordable housing project. With this commitment plus with funds raised through the RESOLVE Campaign BOBHA will construct over 100 (one, two and three bedroom) units of affordable housing in Bridgeland, creating homes for over 200 vulnerable Calgarians. Expected Completion: Fall 2020.

 

Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association is a proud Partner in the RESOLVE Campaign

Making Calgary a better home for everyone  |    www.resolvecampaign.com

Our Programs

How We Do It

BOBHA partners with community groups to promote social connections and access to community resources amongst our tenant.

Here at BOBHA we recognize that no matter which community you live in, it is our responsibility to provide excellent housing and support to those in need of those services.

Our Mission is to:

  • Provide and operate non-profit residential accommodation and incidental facilities exclusively for senior citizens primarily of low or modest income and for persons of low income in the greater Calgary area.
  • Provide the necessary supports to relieve isolation and loneliness and to assist tenants to live independently in a healthy and safe environment.

Our Vision is to:

  • Develop and construct more housing for our citizens that are in the greatest need, as we endeavor to provide the tools necessary for our tenants to have a positive aging experience. We shall continue to assess the changing needs of our clientele and of our society. The Association shall attempt to be creative in their solutions to meet the increasing needs of our younger, handicapped citizens, the increasing numbers of our senior population, and the increasing frailty of our very elderly seniors.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Help us lower rents:

While Columbus Place offers people below-market rent, BOBHA has noticed that many tenants are paying a substantial percentage of their income towards their housing. These tenants are struggling financially to cover their lodging as well as other basic needs such as groceries, medical costs and transportation and have very little, if any, money left over for additional purchases or to cover any unexpected costs.

Based on the most recent income information available BOBHA can see that 79% of tenants are currently paying more than 30% of income towards rent, meaning that rent is considered ‘unaffordable’ for 79% of tenants. This percentage is broken down as follows: 64% of tenants are spending over 30% of their income (Core Housing Need) and 15% of tenants are paying 50% or more of their income towards rent (Extreme Housing Need). Based on these figures, it is clear that there is a real need for lower rents. Our Subsidy program was created to address this need.

Until BOBHA can pay off the mortgage, we are unable to reduce rents to 30% of income for all tenants, which is why we developed our subsidy program.

Support our subsidy program:

BOBHA is fundraising in order to be able to subsidize the rents for those who are currently paying the highest percentage of their income towards rent. We would like to be able to subsidize all units to 30% of income. A fully funded program would cost approximately $126,000 annually. We need your help to make this possible, every little bit counts!

 

Please contact our Director of Resident Services for more information on the subsidy program or any other questions you may have about our organization.

Stay Connected

Contact

Erika Cusimano

Bishop O'Byrne Housing Association (BOBHA)

403.452.5575

Charitable Number: 106877616RR0001

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