On June 14, the board and staff members of all the Jewish housing societies met to discuss the progress they have made, the issues they are facing both collectively and individually, and how they can work together to solve them. Attendees included members from societies for seniors (Louis Brier Home and Hospital and Weinberg Residence, Vancouver Jewish Building Society and Haro Park Centre), singles and families (Tikva Housing Society) and people suffering from mental illness (Vancouver Yaffa Housing). Though there have been discussions in the past, this Jewish Housing Forum was the first outlet that provided all the housing societies a medium to come together and voice their opinions, concerns and future goals.
There has been strong support from the housing societies, donors and the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver for the societies to initiate an open dialogue and find a way to amalgamate all of their strengths to provide the best support possible for those who need it most.
“The forum was a successful, and necessary stepping stone for the future of housing in the Jewish community,” said Susana Cogan, Tikva Housing Society’s development director. “Based on the feedback we’ve received, the overall consensus is that it was very productive and we’re looking forward to meeting in the near future to exchange developments prompted by this forum.”
Some of the issues discussed included communication among housing organizations, issues residents are facing (i.e., transition from independent living to supported living), lack of awareness of the societies’ services in the community, and donor funding. Upon breaking into groups to discuss these issues, participants agreed on a number of suggested solutions, such as more communication among societies, holding regular meetings to exchange information, the sharing of resources, the need to access more units for community members and working together when dealing with acquisitions.
All of these housing societies are continuing to excel independently, so exploring the ways they can work together demonstrated how they can better serve and help support the community.
Hannah Konyves is a volunteer with Tikva Housing Society.