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Sukkahville

Sukkahville is a competition which invites architects, artists and students to design and build sukkahs which the Kehilla Residential Programme will use to publicize the need for permanent affordable housing in the Jewish community. Sukkahville is inspired by Sukkah City New York 2010, which was solely a design competition. Unlike the Sukkah City, we intend to use the Sukkah, a symbol of temporary housing, for a social purpose, to bring the community’s attention to the need for affordable housing. A high profile jury will select the successful designs to be constructed and displayed for viewing just before Sukkot. The winning proponents will receive stipends to cover the cost of construction materials. Toronto’s first Sukkahville event will be held on the Sherman Campus on October 11 and 12, 2011. Funding is being sought to plan and promote the second and third annual events.

Need: 

We have known since 2001 that 20,000 Jewish households in the GTA are poor and, 10 years later, the numbers have grown dramatically while we have done little to address the problem. A recent review of the caseloads of JIAS and JFCS, two of our partner agencies, showed 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.

As UJA Toronto’s official housing agency, Kehilla has struggled to capture the community’s attention and educate them about the needs of its most vulnerable members – the Jewish working poor. Sukkahville intends to increase the awareness of the problems of Toronto’s Jewish poor and will stimulate fundraising efforts towards Kehilla’s current and future housing initiatives including the development of an affordable home ownership project in the Bathurst corridor in Toronto.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

Sukkahville will use creativity and innovation to publicize the challenges of finding affordable housing by stimulating concern and engaging the development community to find practical solutions. The long-term goal for Sukkahville is to create a brand associated with affordable housing for the Jewish community, similar to the Raising the Roof program which was initiated by the private sector.

We want to promote creative thinking and gain the attention of both the creative community and developers by engaging them to work with Kehilla to find solutions. The lack of affordable housing is a problem across the country, and the expansion of Sukkahville to other Jewish communities such as Montreal and Winnipeg, will enable these communities to create local responses to the problem. We will also approach interfaith groups such as Habitat for Humanity to participate in the 2012 event.

We want to increase our funding so that we are able to double the number of winning sukkahs and stage the event in a high profile location, such as Nathan Phillips Square, Dundas Square, or Harbourfront. By improving our use of social media such Facebook, Twitter, and Blogspot, we hope to increase Kehilla’s profile and to expand the visibility of the project beyond Toronto.

The success of Sukkahville will be measured against the experience of the 2011 event.
• Double the number of sukkahs showcased
• Greater development community involvement
• Higher attendance
• More locations
• Increased public profile for Kehilla
• Day school participation
• Attract larger corporate sponsorships

Opportunity for Involvement: 

The expertise of Six Points JVPF can provide critical support both to our organization and for Sukkahville specifically. Kehilla wants to build on its past innovations and is looking for a new business model that will help it to continue to achieve its mandate in increasingly difficult times. The support of Six Points JVPF is needed in the areas of technology services, business development, fundraising, entrepreneurship and real estate experience. For the Sukkahville event, support in social media, media networking, and corporate sponsorship will help us to achieve our goals. As the event grows locally, the broad range of Six Points expertise will be needed to develop an organizational and fundraising framework that can grow as the event grows to encompass other cities.

Time Frame: 

The first Sukkahville event will take place on October 11 and 12, 2011. Planning for the 2012 event will comprise four major work areas: fundraising, site selection, design competition, and event promotion. Starting in January 2012, our first major task will be securing a major downtown Toronto venue, Nathan Philips Square, Dundas Square or Harbourfront, for our event in October 2012. At the same time we will begin to solicit major corporate donors.

In March 2012, we will issue the design competition RFP to architects, artists, and relevant university faculties through our social media platforms, as well as through local media and design competition websites. Responses to the RFP will be received 6-8 weeks later and the jury will vet the submissions and select the winning designs in May. The communication campaign will be developed during May and June.

By the beginning of July, the planning phase will be complete: winning submissions will have been notified and the budget will be finalized. Administrative matters to secure and insure the venues will be completed by the end of August. Implementation of the marketing and communication plan will begin in August. In September, the designers of the winning submissions will receive funds to construct their sukkahs, which will be built in the week before the holiday.

The Sukkahville 2011 pilot project has already succeeded in attracting corporate and individual funding for this year’s event. We see the investment of Six Points JVPF as a kick-start to a larger venture that will become self-sustaining within the two-year time frame of the grant. With the first year’s seed money from Six Points JVPF, we can embark on a broad marketing and communication campaign that will increase public awareness of Sukkahville and help to secure annual contributions from corporate and individual sponsors to sustain the program beyond the Six Points JVPF investment.

Sponsor/Staff: 

Kehilla Residential Programme, the UJA of Greater Toronto’s official agency for affordable housing, is the sponsoring organization.

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 agency since 2000. Nancy is a professional planner who previously worked for the City of Toronto’s Planning and Housing Departments, and as a private consultant. Nancy has organized and been a speaker at many conferences and workshops dealing with affordable housing in Canada, the US and abroad.

Lisa Lipowitz, B.A., is Director of Community Initiatives and Supervisor of Property Management, responsible for Kehilla’s agency and community-based partnerships and the operation of Kehilla’s self-managed and third party projects. Lisa has worked in the Jewish Community for over 25 years, primarily with Kehilla.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

Kehilla is a non profit housing provider and a property manager, and also provides development consulting services to other agencies. Kehilla was established in 1982 with a mandate to develop affordable housing at a time when government funding was available for both housing and agency support. Kehilla currently manages over 400 units in 4 buildings in Toronto.

Our agency has successfully grappled with the shifting economic and social environments by working with other organizations to develop new business models. Among its creative programs is JCARP, a reduced rent scheme developed 7 years ago in conjunction with UJA and private landlords that assists more than 30 households. The Charlie project is a precedent-setting development in which a condo developer is donating condo units to Kehilla in return for a zoning density bonus from the City of Toronto.

Kehilla’s executive director reports to a volunteer board of 18 directors who bring a broad range of professional skills to the agency including architecture, finance, real estate, legal and marketing experience. The board has formed a Sukkaville Steering Committee that will oversee the organization of the event, fundraise and promote the event, as well as engage the development community.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

The Sukkahville concept, combining art and social purpose, is an innovative approach that employs an important Jewish symbol to promote an often hidden and overlooked need in our community. We believe that we can create an organizational, fundraising, and promotional framework that can generate support beyond the Six Points JVPF investment as well as be replicated in other Jewish communities.