The Ben and Esther Dayson Residences, located west of the River District, is one of the residences managed by Tikva Housing, which is responsible for long-term housing solutions in the Jewish community, while Jewish Family Services works with those who require immediate assistance in finding a place to live. (photo from Tikva Housing)
On Dec. 2, Jewish Family Services (JFS), in partnership with Tikva Housing, announced the launch of the first-ever Jewish Housing Registry.
There are six agencies involved in the project: JFS, Tikva Housing, Vancouver Jewish Building Society, Yaffa Housing Society, Haro Park Centre Society and Maple Crest Apartments, each playing a role in addressing the issues of homelessness in the Jewish community in a variety of ways, including advocacy, financial aid and subsidies, and housing placement. Each agency has their own application processes, manages their own wait lists, and collects and stores their client data independent of one another even though their work often crosses over. Consequently, housing needs in the community are difficult to determine accurately. For applicants, a lot of time is spent completing similar applications for different housing providers.
The idea for the registry sprouted from a conversation almost 10 years ago among leaders of the Jewish community, including JFS, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and spearheaded by Tikva’s executive director at the time, Susana Cogan (z’l). With the housing registry in British Columbia not set up to collect data on cultural background, and tenant selection priorities based primarily on the housing needs of applicants, a gap focused on community building was missing. The purpose of this new registry is to improve operational efficiencies and also fill that gap – addressing specific cultural needs of our community, which can be fostered within Jewish housing developments; a priority not currently being addressed through any other agencies in the province.
“It’s exciting to see the partnership between different agencies come to fruition,” said Tanja Demajo, JFS chief executive officer. “This is a unique opportunity for us to use the database as a tool to integrate data, help us meet clients’ specific needs and have a better understanding of the issues of homelessness in our community. Having an opportunity not just to house clients, but also support them by building a Jewish community, is what it means for people to ‘create a home.’”
Tikva’s director of operations and housing development, Alice Sundberg, added, “It is commonplace for applicants to register with multiple housing agencies in the Jewish community, resulting in duplicate records, leaving the JFS housing coordinator having to complete a number of similar application forms from each agency. By having this centralized database, that step only has to be completed one time. We look forward to having up-to-date information available in real-time. It will be a huge improvement administratively and will help us better meet the housing needs of applicants.”
Phase I of the registry launched on Dec. 1 for JFS and Tikva to use, and Phase II will launch shortly for Yaffa Housing, Haro Park Centre Society, Maple Crest Apartments and the Vancouver Jewish Building Society.
“We also want to acknowledge that this registry was made possible because of a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation. With their support, JFS and all the other agencies using this software will be better positioned to serve those in need in a timelier manner. Having more accurate data will also serve us in future projects related to housing advocacy and assistance,” said Demajo.
Tikva Housing is responsible for long-term housing solutions in the Jewish community, while JFS works with those who require immediate assistance in finding a place to live. JFS also provides emotional support and assistance to clients residing in buildings managed by Tikva Housing.
For more information about the registry, contact Maya Dimapilis, JFS director of development and communications, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 604-637-3306.