The JCARP Pilot Project has been operational since November 1, 2004. Funded by UJA Federation and administered by the Kehilla Residential Programme (KRP), this program identifies and places clients of Jewish community agencies in units situated on or near the Bathurst Street corridor in Toronto. The original concept of JCARP was two-fold: the first was as described above, and the second was to invest funds into a rent bank to fund the differential between market rental rates and the amount participants can pay. This second part was never implemented and JCARP has operated without a subsidy component since 2004.
JCARP has been very well received by UJA Federation communal agencies and other Jewish communities in Canada. In 2005, JCARP was presented at a National Conference of Jewish Family Service Agencies in Ottawa and the response was enthusiastic. Both the Montreal and Vancouver Jewish communities have endeavored to replicate the program, but found the concept difficult without a rent bank. A two-year pilot to fund the rent bank will not only revitalize the program, but will also demonstrate that the concept can be easily replicated in other Jewish Communities. The funding will also provide leverage with funders to obtain permanent core funding.
Since the program’s inception in 2004, the need for affordable housing in the Jewish Community has only increased. A recent review of caseloads of JIAS and JF&CS, two of our partner agencies, indicates that more than 500 of their clients are requesting financial assistance to help them pay their rent. Statistics show that many poor Jewish families living in the Bathurst corridor are currently paying 50% to 70% of their income on rent. The last full census in 2001 indicated that 20,000 Jewish households in the GTA are poor. Ten years later, the numbers are greater and the community has done little to address the problem.
As Federation's official housing agency, Kehilla has struggled to capture the community’s attention and to educate people about the needs of its most vulnerable members. Since the program was launched, rental market conditions have changed. Vacancies along the Bathurst Street corridor have declined, while market rents have increased to well in excess of JF&CS's Supplemental Financial Assistance Program (SFAP), which has remained at:
• $700 per month for one-bedroom units.
• $905 per month for two-bedroom units.
• $1055 per month for three-bedroom units.
These rental rates were unrealistic in 2004, and are even more so today. Current rental rates indicate an average differential of $300.00 per month for market rent versus the SFAP rates outlined above. In order to respond to the challenges facing the program, the existing JCARP needs to be modified to include a rent bank. Since landlords have been unwilling to reduce rents to SFAP levels, a rent bank would alleviate the need for any rent reduction. Once a rent bank is funded, the program can be revitalized to expand the number of landlords participating in the program or allow for the provision of shelter allowances in-situ. If the latter component exists, families will not be disrupted and no additional costs such as moving or utility disruption will be incurred. This will address community needs by providing more affordable housing.
The goals and objectives of this initiative are basic – the addition of more affordable housing units to the community housing stock. Another equally important goal is to ensure that the pilot receives funding past the pilot stage to ensure sustainability. We will measure the success of the venture by both quantitative and qualitative analysis. In addition to examining the sheer number of units added to the program, measurement will also take into consideration the following:
Have recipients housing conditions improved?
Has the Community realized any savings through this program?
Do recipients have more disposable income?
Do recipients enjoy an increased standard of living?
How many recipients have moved back to the community and is there a stronger connection to the community?
An in-depth independent evaluation will be conducted to measure the overall success of the pilot.
The expertise of the Six Points JVPF is needed to ensure the continued success and facilitate expansion of the pilot into a funded project. Success breeds success and once the pilot is evaluated it will become clear to funders that the rent bank should receive core funding. The rent bank could be increased by soliciting donations through a UJA Campaign/Foundation fundraising campaign. Existing campaigns such as Foundation’s donor opportunity initiative can also be utilized as a way to solicit funds. Any funds raised for the rent bank are eligible for a tax receipt, giving potential donors an incentive for donating. The opportunity for involvement by Six Points encompasses the following:
Development of a Marketing Strategy and program redesign to include the rent bank component .
Community Engagement and introductions to potential Landlords to reintroduce the program.
Donor Engagement and introductions to potential donors (through UJA Federation Foundation).
Consultation with UJA Federation's Foundation resulting in a targeted donor campaign.
This involvement will contribute to the overall success of the pilot and ensure that the program is sustainable.
The proposed time frame for the pilot will be two years. Funds will be distributed over that two year period and the evaluation will be conducted after the first year.
Kehilla Residential Programme, the UJA of Greater Toronto’s official agency for affordable housing.
Nancy Singer, B.A., MES, OPPI, is Kehilla’s Executive Director. With nearly four decades of housing development and planning experience, she has overseen the Property Management and Development functions of the agency since 2000. Nancy is a professional planner who has worked on numerous non-profit housing projects. She previously worked for the City of Toronto’s Planning and Housing Department, and as a private consultant. In her current role, Nancy has organized many conferences and workshops with the goal of increasing community awareness, and continues to work on bringing new affordable housing initiatives on-stream.
Lisa Lipowitz, B.A., has a dual role at Kehilla. As Director of Community Initiatives, she is responsible for all of Kehilla’s agency and community-based partnerships. Her work includes community development, inter-agency communication, and government relations. As Supervisor of Property Management, she is responsible for the overall operations of all Kehilla’s self-managed and third party projects including JCARP. Lisa has worked in the Jewish Community for over 30 years – primarily with Kehilla. Lisa has been actively involved with the development of Kehilla’s initiatives and has extensive experience with all of its projects.
The JCARP Rent Bank meets the criteria outlined by SixPoints JVPF. If this initiative is successful in receiving a grant the funds will be used to support the recipients as well as grow the funds over time and expand the rent bank. The rent bank is adaptable and can be used to engage the community as well as meet the needs of its recipients.