The JFSA Basic Resource Department provides support, advocacy and resources enabling diverse members of the Jewish community to live with dignity and respect. Our professionals assist clients to navigate government systems and to build a network of support. Basic resources provides the following services; information and referral, case management, housing advocacy, food sustenance and other poverty relief.
Below is information about our major Basic Resources programs.
Serving over 400 individuals and families in our community, the Jewish Food Bank is held every two weeks at the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture, 6184 Ash Street, from 10am – 11am on alternate Thursday mornings.
Unlike general food banks, the JFSA does not have a “walk in” model. Clients must be assessed and placed on the food bank by a JFSA case manager or counsellor. To maintain the privacy of clients, volunteers do not know clients’ names, and use numbered cards, colour coded according to the number of people in the household.
Staffed and operated by volunteers, the Food Bank uses a shop model with clients collecting their own goods according to the size of the household and their needs. Canned, dried foods, fresh eggs, bread and as much fresh produce as the budget and site permit are offered. In the summer the Jewish Food Bank receives organic fresh garden products from an anonymous donor.
While we are not a kosher food bank, the Jewish Food Bank does not offer any meats, poultry or their by-products kosher or not — or anything marine that does not have fins or scales, or their by-products. In addition, for those clients who do keep kosher, we ensure that kosher items are available to them. We try as best we can to accommodate other dietary needs of our clients such as low-sodium items, gluten free items and the like.
The majority of supplies are bought, and we rely heavily on donations in kind for non-basic goods such as: prunes, honey, healthy lunch-box items for children. Donations of food and toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toilet paper and diapers are greatly appreciated and needed.
The Jewish Food Bank is co-funded by Jewish Women’s International-BC, JFSA and many generous donors from the community.
Food Bank Client List
To be placed on the Jewish Food Bank client list you must be assessed for need by a JFSA case manager/counsellor.
If you are under 65 and not a newcomer within the last 5 years please contact Tanja Demajo at 604.637.3316, Ginny Smith at 604.558.5710, or Natalya Rogachyova at 604.637.3308
If you are 65 or older please contact Gisi Levitt at 604.257.5151 ext. 1-219, Donna Cantor at 604.257.5151 ext. 1-218 or Jacqui Sankoff at 604.257.5151 ext. 1-220.
If you are newcomer or immigrant please contact Miri Tal at 604.637.3313.
SPECIAL FOOD BANK PROGRAMS
The Jewish Food Bank partners with local synagogues and schools for “specific” food bank drives depending on the season, for example summer – back packs and school supplies; Rosh Hashanah — honey; Chanukah — oil; Passover — Matzo. If you are interested in creating special volunteer opportunities at special occasions, please email Shelley Ail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For that special Simcha (occasion), let our volunteers create special Centre Pieces and the food donation and/or money goes back to the Jewish Food Bank. Please email Marnie Greenwald at email@example.com for additional information.
Click here to donate to the Jewish Food Bank.
Click here to volunteer at the Jewish Food Bank.
For more information about the Jewish Food Bank, please contact:
Food Bank Coordinator & Community Development
If you are paying more than 30% of your monthly income on rent and your household income is below $35,000, you should make an appointment to see JFSA’s Housing Coordinator.
Some of the things the Housing Coordinator can do:
- Advise you on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords
- Explain the different types of housing available in Vancouver
- Steer you through the labyrinth of applying for social housing
- Advocate for your tenant rights and housing suitability
- Ensure you are applying for programs you are eligible for
- Provide application forms for the BC Housing Registry and non-profit housing organizations
- Provide a letter of support for you to submit to a non-profit housing provider
- Give you applications and information on rent subsidy programs like Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Assistance For Elderly Renters (SAFER)
- Help you complete applications
- Assist you through the dispute resolution process at the Residential Tenancy Branch
- Provide a list of short-term market accommodation
- Provide information and access to the emergency shelter program
The Housing Coordinator cannot:
- Find you market housing
- Find housing for people before they arrive in Vancouver
Problems with Tenancies
Know your rights and responsibilities before you rent. JFSA has free copies of “The Tenant Survival Guide,” a plain-language legal resource for tenants, written by the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre. You can call their tenant hotline at: 604.255.0546, or you can download a copy of the Tenant Survival Guide from their website: http://www.tenants.bc.ca. You can also call the Housing Coordinator to discuss specific problems. If she can’t help you, she will refer you to someone who can. Always be proactive: problems with landlords rarely go away on their own.
The BC Residential Tenancy Office (604.660.1020) is the branch of the provincial government that regulates rental housing in BC. If a landlord or a tenant violates a term in a tenancy agreement they can apply for dispute resolution. A hearing will be held and a Dispute Resolution Officer will make a determination. This is a legally-binding process with its own rules. Before you file a claim, contact the Housing Coordinator, who can help you avoid costly mistakes. Above all, never ignore an eviction notice. Make an appointment to see the Housing Coordinator right away and bring the notice with you.
If you rent within the City of Vancouver, your landlord must comply with the City of Vancouver’s Standards of Maintenance By-Law. However, before you demand enforcement, you may wish to get advice from the Housing Coordinator. For instance, if you are in an illegal suite, the landlord could end up evicting you rather than bring his property up to code. In those cases, it is often better to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch, which will enforce health and safety standards whether or not the rental unit is considered illegal by the municipality.
We don’t have enough affordable housing in Vancouver and we need better laws to protect renters and rental units. Individual advocacy, whether by oneself or a legal advocate, is a time-consuming, though necessary process. But it’s important to remember that long-term social progress only occurs when enough people convince those who have power to change our legislation and financial priorities. The Jewish community cannot accomplish this in isolation. As part of our commitment to creating long-term affordable housing solutions, Jewish Family Service Agency:
• Is a founding and active member of Citywide Housing Coalition, a non-profit society dedicated to ending homelessness through permanent social housing construction programs, increases to welfare and minimum wage rates, legislative changes to protect renters and incentives to encourage more rental housing.
• Regularly speaks on housing and poverty issues before City Council
• Works with Tikva Housing Society to increase opportunities for affordable housing for Jewish individuals and families with low incomes.
• Sponsored the City Council appointment of the JFSA Housing Coordinator to the Vancouver City Planning Commission
• Speaks to senior government, business, labour and communities on housing issues
• Works with other coalitions and campaigns such as Metro Vancouver Alliance, the Living Wage Campaign, First Call BC, Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, Pivot Legal Society’s Red Tent Campaign, Community Advocates for Little Mountain,Carnegie Community Action Project, Front Line Advocacy Workers Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
There are many different kinds of non-market housing, but all are owned and/or managed by non-profit societies or government. Most of the non-market housing in Vancouver is geared to low to middle income families, seniors or people with disabilities, who cannot afford market rents in Vancouver. If you are single, or a couple, under the age of 55 and homeless or at risk of homelessness, you may be eligible for some housing, but much of it is single room occupancy (shared bathrooms and kitchens, often in renovated residential hotels). Rent for most, (but not all) non-market housing is 30% of the gross monthly household income, or, if the household is on welfare or disability pension, the shelter maximum under the BC Employment & Assistance Act.
Co-op housing is a form of non-market housing that provides opportunity for people of all different incomes to own a housing complex as a group. Members purchase a refundable co-op share and pay monthly housing charges, usually set at 30% of the monthly household income. Co-op revenue from higher income households helps subsidize the units of lower-income households and everyone participates in the management and operation. Unfortunately, as a result of the federal government failure to fund the co-op programs that built the bulk of Vancouver’s housing co-ops in the 1970s and 1980s, there are few co-ops left that can accept new lower-income members. You can get information from the BC chapter of the Cooperative Housing Federation on which Co-ops are accepting new applications at: http://www.chf.bc.ca/pages/directory.asp
Subsidized housing, run directly by government or by non-profit organizations, is for households with low incomes. There is a long waitlist for subsidized housing but not applying, does not solve the problem. JFSA strongly encourages anyone who pays more than 30% of their household income on rent to apply to as many buildings as possible. Priority is given to people who are homeless or at greatest risk of becoming homeless. The crisis of eviction for failure to pay rent may not be nearly as critical if you have kept your subsidized housing applications up-to-date. As well, long waitlists are evidence-based proof that our society cannot rely on the marketplace to meet such a basic need like housing. Much of the systemic advocacy carried out by JFSA is to convince voters and government that we must have permanent annual federal and provincial housing programs that construct new social housing. Getting on a waitlist helps us advocate for more affordable housing.
There are two ways to apply for subsidized housing. The first is to get your name on the central waiting list-called: The Housing Registry. Make an appointment with the Housing Coordinator at JFSA or download the application at: http://www.bchousing.org/applicants/apply/step_2/Application_Form. By registering with the Housing Registry you can get on the waitlist for about half of the social housing units in Vancouver. On page 9 of the Housing Registry application you must indicate where you want to live. Take the time to choose specific buildings from the lists provided by BC Housing because priority is given to applicants who specify buildings, rather than neighbourhoods. Because of land prices, there is much more subsidized housing in east-side neighbourhoods. The faces of Vancouver neighbourhoods have changed substantially in the last 20 years. Old prejudices about east-side neighbourhoods being unsafe are not supported by statistics on Vancouver crime. Visit the City of Vancouver’s website to get information on any of Vancouver’s 23 local areas: http://vancouver.ca/community_profiles/CommunityList.htm
There are more than 200 subsidized housing projects that aren’t listed on the Housing Registry. You must be applied to directly to them and most of the organizations ask for a written request, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope. To save you the trouble, at JFSA, we have many of these applications on hand, so just make an appointment to see the Housing Coordinator.
Make sure you keep your contact information up-to-date with The Housing Registry and all other places you’ve applied. You should contact The Housing Registry at least once every six months, or they will drop your application from their waiting list. As long as you are polite and brief, contacting housing organizations once a month cannot hurt and persistence has been known to pay off.
Searching for Market Housing in Vancouver
Everyone wants to live in Vancouver and the very characteristics that make our city so desirable—mountains and ocean, are also partly responsible for a chronically low rental housing vacancy rate and some of the highest average rents in the country. In general, the further east you go, the lower the rent. The exception currently, is Marpole, a community in southwest Vancouver (roughly, between Granville and Cambie and Marine Drive and 57th Avenue). This is bound to change with the development plans for the Cambie Corridor, a result of the completion of the Canada Line rapid transit service. But for now, because of a proliferation of 1960s-style 3-floor wood frame buildings, it is possible to find a 1-bedroom apartment in Marpole for $800. Many have hard-wood floors and a few have elevators.
Here are some tips for apartment hunting:
Word-of-mouth is very important: let everyone–friends, neighbours, relatives, co-workers– know you are looking.
Walk around neighbourhoods that have lots of rental housing, particularly at the end of the month when landlords advertise vacancies with lawn signs.
Make the landlord want you. Treat meeting a prospective landlord like a job interview. Make yourself as presentable as possible. Bring references.
Beware of scams: Never give money to a landlord without receiving a receipt. A landlord can require up to half a month’s rent as a security deposit and if you have a pet, another half month rent. A landlord must provide you with a written tenancy agreement. Make sure you keep your copy in a safe place.
Roommate Caution: Because of the high cost of rents, many tenants are forced to find roommates to share one-bedroom and even studio apartments. Be very careful with roommate selection. Many evictions for non-payment of rent occur because one roommate has moved and left the other responsible for the entire month’s rent.
Know your rights and responsibilities: Different provinces and countries have different laws regarding residential tenancies. In BC, the BC Residential Tenancy Act is the legislation that governs tenancies. The Residential Tenancy Office (http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/) provides information and dispute resolution to tenants and landlords. Clearer information, and a Tenant Survival Guide is available through the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre: http://www.tenants.bc.ca/main/ . You can also call them at: 604.255.0546
Where to find rental listings:
• Craig’s List: Craig’s List has the most comprehensive listing of rental accommodation. Few landlords use newspaper want-ads. It worth checking Craig’s List several times daily since new listings are posted 24 hours a day. (Currently Marpole, a neighbourhood on the south-west side of Vancouver, has the most inexpensive rents. If you want to search a specific neighbourhood, enter it in the space beside: “Search for.”
• Partners In Hope: This is a Christian non-profit organization that provide a list of low-end market rentals.
• Kijiji: Kijiji is similar to Craig’s List
• Community Housing Registry Program: This is a project of Options, a social service agency in Surrey. It gathers suburban listings.
• Broadway Youth Resources Centre: Administered by Pacific Community Resources Society, Broadway Youth Resource Centre has housing workers and a supported housing program for people between 16 and 24.
When you have no housing you can download a list of emergency shelters from http://www.gvss.ca/Directory.html. For most of the major shelters, such as Lookout, Triage and Belkin House, you need to call first to find out if there is room for you because they operate at near-full capacity. Alternatively, you can call 211 after 11:30 AM and get an update of what shelters have available beds. Some shelters, such as Catholic Charities Men’s Hostel, provide mats on a first-come-first serve basis, with line-ups beginning before 4 PM. Most shelters provide three meals a day or food vouchers.
For more information about housing please contact:
Sara Ann Chisholm
Do I have to pay for these services?
No, it’s free! Come see us!
Where do your funds come from?
Most of our funding comes from The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, and the rest is made up of individual donations, other private foundations and monies from the provincial government.
Why do I need to provide proof of income?
As a non-profit organization with charitable tax status we are bound by the rules of the Canada Revenue Agency and as such need clear documentation of any monies we give out. As well, basic resources provides aid to those most in need with limited or fixed incomes or in dire financial straits, as such we need to assess income level.
Why do you only give out gift cards to Safeway or Superstore?
One main reason is that there are multiple locations of these stores across the Lower Mainland and outlying areas. In addition, these stores provide JFSA with a discount on bulk ordering allowing us to order more for less. Did you also know that Superstore cards can also be used at Extra Foods, Supervalu or No Frills stores?
Why can’t I get permanent financial help?
We want to meet with you regularly to help you move forward with your goals and be sure and offer whatever resources we can as your situation changes. We also have to balance out all the requests for help we receive and make sure our funds go as far as possible.
Why don’t you give loans?
There is another community organization called Hebrew Free Loan Association and they offer this service.