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SEDI receives $10,000 donation to help shelter residents transition to secure housing

19 March 2013

National charitable organization, Social and Enterprise Development Innovations (SEDI), is pleased to announce the receipt of a $10,000 donation in support of its Independent Living Account (ILA) program, from an anonymous fund at the Toronto Community Foundation.

The ILA program enables low-income people living in transitional and shelter housing to build the financial knowledge, skills and savings they need to move into secure housing and expand their economic opportunities.

“We are extremely grateful for the Fund’s support, which will enable SEDI and its partners to help more people make a successful transition from homelessness to secure housing and a better life,” stated Elizabeth Mulholland, Chief Executive Officer, SEDI. “The ILA program has helped more than 160 people to successfully move out of shelters into permanent housing and, with this support, we can reach even more.”

The ILA program is currently delivered by seven Toronto shelter and transitional housing operators, with training and support from SEDI and funding from the TD Bank Group, City of Toronto, federal Homelessness Partnership Initiative, and private donors. Under the program, residents enrol in an incentivized savings program that enables them to:

  • Open a savings account and make regular deposits
  • Participate in financial literacy education
  • Set a savings goal (maximum $400) over a savings period of 5-12 months
  • Receive case management support to help them attain their savings goal
  • Receive a savings incentive of $3 for every $1 saved
  • Use their savings and the matching funds to move out of shelters.

“People living in shelters and transitional housing usually find it hard to improve their social and economic well-being, due to their precarious living situation. This makes moving to stable and secure housing the critical first step to greater self-sufficiency,” explained ILA Program Coordinator, Karolina Perraud.

“While shelter residents have access to a range of community services, typically these don’t help them to build the savings they need to move out of shelters successfully or the money skills they need to remain housed once they leave the shelter,” added Perraud. The ILA program helps fill these gaps by providing shelter residents with the financial knowledge and skills, access to mainstream financial institutions, and savings supports they need to move out of shelters and to remain stably housed.

“To date, the ILA Program has enabled over 300 shelter residents to collectively save over $110,000 and to leverage a further $264,000 in matching funds to support their move to self-sufficiency,” said Mulholland, “but savings are just one measure of the real value this program offers which, to quote one of our participants, is really ‘hope – tons of hope.’”

Research funded by a Toronto Community Foundation 2008 Vital Idea Award Grant further underscores the success of the ILA program, showing that:

  • Every $1 invested has yielded $2.19 in social return.
  • Labour force participation among ILA graduates rose from 50% to 72%, with growth in full time employment.
  • Risk of recidivism (return to shelter) within the first year after graduation was reduced by over 50%.

SEDI is currently seeking partners to expand the ILA program to other cities in Canada.