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
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.
“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
“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.”
“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