Letter from the CEO: Building a better future together

When I started at Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, I signed on to help build a world where every person has a place to call their own. As the CEO of my affiliate, my responsibility for achieving this goal falls within the catchment area of Halton and Mississauga. However, that does not make me blind to the dozens of Habitats in Canada working to do the same thing in their own communities.

For those that are unaware, Habitat for Humanity operates on an affiliate structure. Although we all work under the Habitat for Humanity banner, much of the work we do is independent of each other.

I’d like that to change.

We all have the same goal, to live in a world where everyone lives in a safe, decent and affordable home of their own. Every Habitat works towards finding solutions to the growing gap between the need and availability of  housing.

So why are we duplicating our work across each affiliate, sometimes right on top of each other?

In order to truly build a world without housing insecurity, we should be actively working to maximize Habitat for Humanity’s build capacity and efficiency. We should be seen not just as a worthy cause to donate to, but as the solution to the ongoing affordable housing crisis in Canada.

That’s why we believe that a shared-service model is the way forward for Habitat for Humanity in Canada.

Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga already works with other non-profits within our community in mutually beneficial partnerships. This has allowed us to help more people and increase our efficiency. By partnering with the Region and other non-profits we can outsource our family selection process to charities already doing the same work. If we can share services with other charities, we should be able to do so within our own organization.

Habitat HM has built a home for Community Living North Halton for a family of men on the autism spectrum. We have also built a second-stage transitional home for Halton Women’s Place. In both cases we were able to build for them to help them to do the work they do in the community.

We need everyone to start the discussion about collaboration, breaking down the silos and encouraging not-for-profit partners to work together on building homes.

If we had affiliates that specialized in certain tasks, construction, procurement, communications, events, ReStore operations, or planning and development, we could reduce the number of tasks each affiliate has to do, and flatten some of the obstacles we all face. We could spend time focusing on ways to increase the amount of housing in each of our communities instead of inventing new ways to tackle the same problems across the country.

Every affiliate has its own set of unique challenges and obstacles to overcome, and a deep understanding of the local landscape is important to solving these problems. We believe that by streamlining the tasks that are universal to all Habitats it will free us up to build more homes and help more people live happier, healthier lives.

Together I believe we are bigger, better, and stronger. Together we can start to close the gap.


John Gerrard
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga