In a rare merger move for the non-profit sector in Calgary, affordable housing not-for-profit organizations Horizon Housing and Forward Housing are becoming one.
The combined organization, which has yet to be named, will be headed by Horizon Housing CEO Martina Jileckova. Forward Housing CEO Gary McNamara will be taking on dual positions as Chief Integration and Chief Operating Officer.
The goal of the merger is to reduce duplication of efforts between the two not-for-profits, alongside creating better economies of scale to develop larger properties.
“This is about better service to our residents, this is about opportunities for our employees, and this is about having a more robust voice for housing affordability in Calgary,” said Jileckova.
“The benefits of the merger is really about taking what we both do well, and combining to create an experience for our residents that serves residents coming from across the spectrum of needs,” she said.
The decision to form a merged organization was approved by the two organization’s boards in June of this year.
Existing partnerships will continue
Jileckova said that the merged organization will continue to work with the many partner agencies that provide housing referrals to Horizon, alongside the current direct entry program with Forward.
She said that the larger portfolio of housing options available due to the merger, will also offer a more options for the over 2,000 Calgarians—including over 500 seniors—within over 1,650 units in 30 buildings.
“As people age, they have the opportunity to perhaps move within our portfolio,” said Jileckova.
“But for our future residents, and for our partner agencies… they’re coming to one door that will then unlock the potential to be housed throughout the city,” she said.
“And of course we have our eyes firmly on growth, because the need for affordable housing and affordable rental housing in Calgary remains great.”
The merger is not expected to have any negative impacts on current residents.
Combating inflation a benefit, but not a cause for the merger
Jileckova said a larger organization can provide more stable rental prices.
She said that the economies of scale will also help to secure lower development costs for future properties. These savings will be passed on to renters, because said Jileckova. They are well aware of the inflationary pressures on their low-income renters from things like food and other basic supplies.
“When it comes to owning, and operating, and developing rental housing—which is what we do—we have seen significant increases to the cost of rental housing, and that includes increases in heating costs and insurance,” she said.
“Our insurance has doubled, that the cost of materials, supplies and labour are all significantly higher.”
Jileckova said that it also allows for the merged organization to have a larger voice for affordable housing, while at the same time reducing the competition for limited corporate donations and government grants.
No layoffs as a result of the merger
She said that it would also allow them to better compete in the tight labour market.
Jileckova and McNamara met with their respective teams on July 27, to inform them that the merger would result in no layoffs.
“We made it very clear to all employees that they should not be concerned about any layoffs,” said Jileckova.
She said it would be an opportunity to stop competing over talent, and focus more on attracting and retaining excellent employees.
“The merger is an opportunity to take what both organizations are already doing, and doing well, and put it together,” she said.
“You know, that’s the whole idea that one plus one equals three, right.”
More details on the merger, including a finalized name, will be released later this fall.