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A Visit to the Buffalo

A tour of CMHA Central Region It was my pleasure to visit Trish M. the Executive Director of CMHA Central Region (Red Deer) last week.  CMHA Central Region provides a variety of excellent programs in support of individuals and families impacted by mental health and addictions issues.  A highlight for me was the opportunity to visit the Buffalo Apartments located in a historic hotel building in downtown Red Deer.

The Buffalo Apartments are owned and rented to tenants by Potters Hands Housing. The 39-unit complex supports tenants using a Housing First model. Individuals with a history of homelessness and addictions can move directly off the street into permanent, affordable housing. 24-hour staffing is provided by CMHA

The Buffalo uses a philosophy called “Housing First”. Simply said, Housing First moves individuals immediately from the streets or homeless shelters into their own apartments.  Intake Coordinators from the agencies who make up the Red Deer Housing Team work with individuals on the streets or in shelter and present housing options to them including the Buffalo. Housing First is the evidence based practice used through out Alberta in alignment with the Government of Alberta’s Plan for Alberta, a 10 year plan to end homelessness in Alberta.

People living at The Buffalo, have the opportunity to work with support staff. Staff at The Buffalo help tenants with day-to-day necessities like doing laundry, cooking nutritious meals, and cleaning their apartments. Staff may also help tenants find meaningful activities, volunteer opportunities, or employment opportunities. Staff assist tenants to access health services (such as dental, medical, psychiatric services).

Buffalo Apartments Tenant’s Association has been an ongoing collaboration (for the past 2 years) and has grown over the past year to include an average of 10-13 (about 30%) of the residents at monthly meetings where staff support tenants in discussing challenges and concerns, establishing guidelines for for the “community”, planning activities to engage each other and the community, and advocating for themselves.

To donate to the work of CMHA Central Region click HERE 

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