Sep 27, 2018
This spring, the Gay Lea Foundation announced a donation of $3,500 to the Siloam Mission’s RentSmart program. The certificate program prepares individuals who are transitioning out of a shelter into permanent housing.
The Winnipeg-based Siloam Mission was established more than 30 years ago to advocate for individuals who have been impacted by poverty, homelessness and physical illness or trauma. The organization helps community members find housing, employment through job readiness programs and offers mental health support and spiritual care.
“There are many challenges for people who have been homeless and are trying to find and maintain housing,” says Lindsay Enns, Siloam Mission’s Transition Service Manager. “Many of our clients lack positive rental references, identification and sufficient income to afford decent housing. Tenants who are unaware of their rights and responsibilities may also find it difficult to maintain housing.
“For example, a tenant may not know he or she must maintain their rental unit or is afraid to request a repair from their landlord, even if the damage was caused by normal wear and tear,” says Enns. “In these incidents, a tenant’s negligence to report an issue in their suite may cause damage to the unit, leading to an eviction.”
The RentSmart certificate program’s main goals are to assist people to find and maintain good housing, reduce landlord-tenant conflict, damages and evictions, and increase housing stability. The program teaches participants about tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, communications skills, conflict resolution and budget maintenance.
Siloam Mission works closely with the Winnipeg Rental Network, a city-wide inter-agency initiative addressing affordable rental issues and works with tenants, landlords and service agencies regarding tenure security, to deliver the program. Upon completion of the program, participants earn a RentSmart certificate, which can be used as a reference to potential landlords.
A participant of the program shared how it opened his eyes to what he should be looking for when he was viewing a potential home, says Enns. On a walk through an apartment, his case-worker noted how he was checking appliances, lights and smoke detectors to make sure they were working, adds Enns.
“Having secure housing is such an important part of anyone’s sense of well-being, says Rachel Caldara, Gay Lea Foundation Chair. “Siloam Mission is not only educating its clients on the ins and outs of renting, but they are also empowering them with the necessary skills to sustain decent housing.”
“Siloam Mission is thankful for the support from the Gay Lea Foundation,” says Enns. “With your donation, we were able to purchase course workbooks for participants. They include interactive activities and information on the basics of renting, proper home care and how to be a good tenant and neighbour.”
Siloam Mission has held two RentSmart programs so far, with plans to offer it monthly. Every RentSmart participant has been able to find and keep their housing.
About Siloam Mission
For over thirty years, Siloam Mission has advocated for those who have been impacted by poverty, homelessness and physical illness or trauma. It recognizes these are the most vulnerable members of its community and that it must stand in alliance with them, to help them achieve changes in their lives. Working with trained internal and external resources, Siloam Mission helps community members to find housing, but over and above that provides the means for them to find employment through its job readiness programs, mental health support through intervention programs and spiritual care.
The Gay Lea Foundation is the official registered charity and collaborative forum for Gay Lea Foods and its members, directors and employees to support families and communities in need. Since receiving charitable status in 2014, the Foundation has provided more than $685,000 in funding support for education, poverty relief and community well-being projects in Canada and around the world. The primary source of funding for the Foundation is an annual $150,000 contribution from Gay Lea Foods, which is supplemented by personal contributions from across the Gay Lea Foods family. Funding applications are assessed twice a year by the Foundation’s Board of Directors, which is comprised of Gay Lea Foods Directors, delegates, dairy producer members and employees.
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