The program, made possible with generous financial support from The Sprott Foundation, will help keep vulnerable people housed by assisting them with their taxes.
(Toronto, Ont.) — WoodGreen Community Services is launching a new, innovative pilot project to help stop evictions before they happen, thanks to an unprecedented $1 million gift from The Sprott Foundation.
For the pilot, WoodGreen will help vulnerable clients to get their taxes filed, apply for the correct benefits, and navigate the system to ensure they remain housed and do not fall into homelessness. Benefits and housing subsidies are tied to notice of assessments. If vulnerable people don’t file their taxes and get their assessments annually, they could risk losing their benefits and housing subsidies, which could make their rents unaffordable and, in turn, lead to possible evictions.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to a potential “eviction pandemic”, which is why it’s more important than ever to ensure supports are in place for those most at risk.
“We see far too many people on waitlists for housing already. Even worse, when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, evictions could skyrocket,” said Steve Vanderherberg, Director of Family Finance and Employment Supports at WoodGreen. “We need to act now to help keep people housed, and thanks to The Sprott Foundation, we are going to be able to do just that.”
“The Sprott Foundation has a long history of supporting innovative approaches that bring concrete solutions to preventing poverty,” said Larisa Sprott, Director of The Sprott Foundation. “My family, and the foundation board, are very supportive of WoodGreen’s Difference Maker Campaign’s focus on poverty reduction and keeping people safely housed in the community. We encourage others to invest in WoodGreen solutions — especially now, as COVID has accelerated the number of people losing their housing, and the risk of being evicted is very real.”
A portion of The Sprott Family’s generous gift will also allow WoodGreen to create a small Emergency Relief Fund and a Rent Bank. These initiatives will provide possible rent supplements to help clients waiting for a tax refund to cover their rent, and/or one-time supports to transition into housing, and interest-free micro-loans to support individuals at risk of losing their housing.
“The pandemic has made it clear that when individuals are living on low incomes, a single bump in the road or an unexpected expense can catapult them into homelessness,” said Vanderherberg. “We know it is easier, more cost-effective, and offers so much more dignity to keep someone housed than to try to transition someone back into a home once they have become homeless.”
WoodGreen is one of the largest social-service organizations in Toronto and is a poverty-prevention leader in the city. For more than 80 years, the organization has worked to keep people safe and housed in the community.
To learn more about the pilot program and WoodGreen’s other programs and services, please visit woodgreen.org.
ABOUT WOODGREEN COMMUNITY SERVICES (woodgreen.org): WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, serving 37,000 people each year. We offer over 75 programs and services tackling the social determinants that affect the health and well-being of individuals in our community.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Jen Mayville, Marketing & Communications Manager; [email protected]; (437) 226-8091 (cell)