The Medicine Hat Community Housing Society can be defined in three ways:
- As a Management Body, named by the Alberta Housing Act, that oversees all social housing programs within the City of Medicine Hat, providing residential support to those citizens who are in need of affordable housing options
- As a provincially appointed Community Based Organization and federally appointed Community Entity charged with leading and implementing the local Plan to End Homelessness through multiple initiatives;
- And as a charitable organization, under the Alberta Societies Act, which means that its budget is partially made up of community donations.
Under these three designations, we provide homes and support service to over 1,000 low-income households in Medicine Hat, and have housed over 602 individuals and their 283 children out of homelessness.View our 2016 Highlights (PDF)
Once upon a time, there were two distinct housing organizations in Medicine Hat: the Regional Social Housing Agency (MHRSHA), which looked after the city’s social housing programs, and the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society (MHCHS), which oversaw a variety of initiatives aimed at addressing homelessness. In 2006, the two organizations amalgamated under the society’s current name, creating a uniquely structured organization that is both a management body and a community based organization. The complimentary merger increased efficiency and uniquely positioned the MHCHS as a service provider, as it is now able to coordinate local housing options with other related support services.
Our society has only grown stronger since merging. As of 2006, we have worked to add over 90 affordable housing units, seven transitional housing units, and 350 direct rent supplements to our community. During the flood of 2013, our relocation and reconstruction efforts ensured the rehousing of 95 people. These accomplishments, achievable only with community input and the help of our partners have earned the MHCHS a national reputation for excellence among community housing organizations.
Our 11-member Board of Directors provides policy and planning direction to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The CAO is responsible for overseeing all of the Society’s business in the community and reports directly to the Board of Directors. The MHCHS employs 34 staff members to deliver the services deemed necessary by the Board and the CAO. Advocacy, or the participation in public-policy decisions related to homelessness, is also a primary function of the Board.
The MHCHS is affected by several provincial legislations, including the Alberta Housing Act, the Residential Tenancies Act, and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The MHCHS envisions a future in which all citizens of Medicine Hat and district are able to access appropriate, affordable housing and related support services.
The mission of the MHCHS is to provide shelter and related support services for individual families.
Our work towards achieving this goal is informed by the following guiding principles:
- Social supports are essential to ensuring successful community integration and housing stability.
- Developing and maintaining community partnerships is the most efficient way to address the issue of attainable housing.
- Community input is valued in the local decision-making process.
- A safe environment should be provided for children, youth, and vulnerable populations.
Furthermore, the following belief statements can be found at the heart of our society:
- Integrated community living is a basic human need and therefore a human right. It is fundamental to the well being of individuals, families, and the community.
- Housing is necessary for full participation in civic culture and the economy.
- Providing attainable housing is a joint responsibility shared by the individual, private sector, public sector, and the community.
- Society is collectively responsible for the disenfranchised.
In working towards the end of homelessness in our community, the MHCHS values respect, integrity, accountability, dedication, and collaboration.
Our Business Plan
The organization’s priorities over the next three years are ambitious and attainable:
- End Homelessness in Medicine Hat; maintain that status
- Develop Housing Plan
- Increase Affordable Housing Stock
- Increase Rent Supplements
- Implement Permanent Supportive Housing
- Increase organizational capacity necessary to sustain leadership momentum, and effectively support community long term
MHCHS will remain committed to its leadership role in community. The organization will continue to raise the bar when it comes to the level of service provided to those who require our support. Maintaining the integrity of the housing portfolios, within resources available, will remain a priority.
Vital partnerships with government and other stakeholders will continue to be nurtured and developed. These partnerships are vital to our ability to provide necessary services to assist vulnerable citizens in obtaining and maintaining adequate and affordable housing, as well as facilitate their increased potential for independence and self-sufficiency. Reducing the risk of homelessness through proactive and preventative measures will continue to be a primary focus. Ending the trap of homelessness will be the ultimate outcome.View Our Full Business Plan (PDF)