I recently was appointed board chair for Tikva Housing Society. When I was asked to join the board three years ago, I knew nothing about Tikva or their invaluable work. However, as a real estate professional, I did have a keen understanding of the housing affordability crisis in the Lower Mainland, and knew that our Jewish community was not immune to the crisis. Hence, I understood the importance of Tikva Housing, which is why I joined the board.
Tikva is a charitable, nonprofit society providing access to affordable housing for low- to moderate-income Jewish individuals and families. Every year, in March, the society turns to the generosity of the community to support its mission and now, more than ever, Tikva needs that help.
The widespread effects of COVID-related job loss have placed many members of our Jewish community at risk of homelessness. Tikva offers short-term rent subsidies for those living in market rental housing who are facing a temporary crunch and are unable to afford their rent. The demand for this kind of assistance has increased greatly in the last 12 months. The amount of subsidies that we can provide is directly in correlation to the amount that we can raise from private donations and foundations, and donations are urgently needed to help people stay in their homes. There are already more than 200 Jewish people on a waitlist for affordable housing, and the demand is only growing.
With all levels of government focused on affordable housing in general, we are seeing numerous initiatives being considered and Tikva is in conversation with government agencies and housing developers to explore new partnerships. Currently, Tikva owns and/or operates 61 affordable housing units in the Lower Mainland: 11 units at Dany Guincher House in Marpole; 18 units at the Diamond Residences (Storeys) in Richmond; and, thanks to the Ben and Esther Dayson Charitable Foundation, 32 townhomes were added last summer. The Ben and Esther Dayson Residences in Vancouver’s River District form a family-oriented community with more than 60 children.
This coming summer will see Tikva tenants occupying 37 units at the Arbutus Centre on Yew Street. The cost to Tikva will be a nominal $1,500 per unit annually, and the Diamond Foundation has pledged to cover this expense for all 37 units for the first five years.
In 2022, 20 units on the third floor of a five-storey building will be home to Susana Cogan Place. In partnership with Polygon, BC Housing will provide full financial support for this project, which is named in memory of Tikva’s founder and affordable-housing trailblazer, Susana Cogan, z’l.
Expanding Tikva’s affordable housing portfolio means that more low- to moderate-income Jews can stay close to their synagogues, schools and the multitude of Jewish community amenities. While Tikva Housing will operate a total of 98 units by the end of summer 2021 and 148 by the end of 2022, it’s still not enough to meet the needs.
Housing is the cornerstone and foundation of a dignified life. The Hebrew word tikva means hope. Please support Tikva Housing Society’s current campaign, which runs to March 22, and help us bring hope – and housing – to those most in need in our Jewish community.
Visit tikvahousing.org or call 778-998-4582 to donate and for more information.
Rhonda Sacks is board chair, Tikva Housing Society.