ACU invests in Jubilee Fund’s new Rent Guarantee Program
Jubilee Fund’s new program is aiming to secure affordable housing for women and children experiencing barriers to finding a safe place to call home.
Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. And yet, for too many women and their children, they experience systemic barriers to accessing affordable housing, leaving them in poor conditions or simply homeless. For this reason, Assiniboine Credit Union is investing in this fund, and is inviting all Manitobans to contribute as well.
Manitoba’s Jubilee Fund launched a new initiative on May 1, 2022, called the Rent Guarantee Program. It aims to help women who are in need of stable housing secure a home where they can live independently, safely and build belonging and community.
The new program is an extension of the work Jubilee Fund has been carrying out since 2000. The charity has been involved in over 70 social impact projects helping a wide range of not-for-profit organizations to secure essential financing to help fight poverty. It does this by pooling funds from Manitobans who want to invest in social impact initiatives, and then providing loan guarantees for organizations that enable them to access credit from Jubilee Fund’s financial partner, ACU.
This new program is a natural extension of Jubilee Fund’s previous work and was launched to fill a clear need in the community.
How the Rent Guarantee Program works
The program is initially designed to help women (and their children) experiencing domestic violence, poverty and other systemic barriers to finding safe, affordable housing.
“There are many reasons why women and their children need to find a home, but face barriers to accessing housing,” says Monica Sigurdson, Fund Development Manager at Jubilee Fund. “They may be leaving unsafe living conditions, women who have experienced trauma and who are working on their recovery, homeless women and single mothers.”
The program’s key aim is to help these women find housing. “There is a serious lack of public housing in Manitoba,” says Monica. “There is a much wider choice of market housing, so we try to find landlords who are willing to help these women get back their independence.”
One of the key barriers to housing for many women in difficult situations is the need to provide the first and last month’s rent. To address this problem, the program co-signs for the renter and guarantees their rent. If the tenant doesn’t pay their rent, for whatever reason, Jubilee Fund will pay the landlord what is owed.
“What we’re saying to these women is that we believe in them,” says Monica. “We believe in what they’ve already accomplished and we want to help them find safe housing for themselves and their children.”
This program is so important because women who are unable to find their own affordable housing often face the prospect of returning to abusive and dangerous relationships or continue to experience homelessness.
Jubilee Fund describes the program in action
First Rent Guarantee a Success
“It was May when we received an inquiry from a distraught mother, caught in a heart wrenching position due to not only one, but two abusive exes. She was being forced out of her family home, with no job as she had to take stress leave from a well-paying nurse position due to the abuse she was experiencing. …
Thus began our search for a two bedroom apartment for her, in a very specific and expensive area, on a very tight timeline and budget. We thankfully found an apartment that she felt would fit well and joined her in viewing the apartment to show our support should she decide to proceed. The apartment was close to her children’s school, and close to amenities including a park. …
With the apartment secured, Jubilee Fund’s job was to ensure continued emotional support as she navigated a very stressful legal proceedings with her current home and essential to her future with her kids.”
How the application process works
Women can apply through Jubilee Fund’s Rent Guarantee Program webpage. If applicants don’t have Internet access, they can also apply in person or over the phone at 204-589-5001.
“We do ask for a character reference,” Monica explains of the application process. “For example, this could be either from a counsellor, community group or women’s shelter.”
The speed with which an applicant can move into a new rental home will depend on a few factors. “How quickly we can get them into their new home will depend on the availability of a suitable rental unit,” says Monica. “It also depends on how quickly they can provide us with their character reference. Our internal approval process is pretty fast.”
Jubilee Fund’s supporters
“For operational funding, we have a wide variety of supporters,” says Monica. “We receive grants from a range of organizations such as foundations, financial support from corporations, a limited amount of government support and donations from individuals.”
The new program requires a considerable number of partnerships, as the Rent Guarantee Program needs financial and referring partners to be successful. Monica explains that community organizations play a pivotal role in the process. “Partners such as the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters are essential so that we receive applicant recommendations,” she explains.
And this is where you come in, as Jubilee Fund is looking to raise the money required to support up to 40 women to find homes in the upcoming year. Your contribution will ensure women and children have a safe place to call home, and a community to call their own.
Plans to extend the program
If the program is successful in its first year, Jubilee Fund hopes to expand the program to help more people find independent, safe housing.
“We hope to extend the program to several other groups,” says Monica. “These will include youth coming out of care, people who were previously incarcerated and newcomers to Canada.”
The program extension will be dependent on a few factors. As Monica explains further, “it will all depend on the success of the program, the number of applicants we receive and, of course, if we receive sufficient funding to support it.”
Assiniboine Credit Union’s role
“At Assiniboine Credit Union, we use finance as a force for good, which includes addressing poverty and housing insecurity,” says Brendan Reimer, Strategic Partner, Values-Based Banking at ACU.
“ACU has been a key partner of Jubilee Fund since the beginning. While the organization is independent, the majority of its projects have involved loans from ACU secured by Jubilee Fund. Together, we’ve been able to ensure many poverty reduction initiatives gain access to the financing required to achieve their mission.”
Besides ACU’s support, ACU also administers the Jubilee Investment Certificates, which are the investment funds that can be bought to help finance the organization’s initiatives. “Both ACU and Jubilee Fund identified affordable housing as a priority in the goal of fighting poverty,” says Brendan. “As part of that, we saw the need to help women and children experiencing poverty and homelessness to find a safe, affordable place to live.”
Jubilee Fund’s new program fits in very well with ACU’s vision: A world where innovative financial services in local communities contribute to a sustainable future for all.
“The Rent Guarantee Program gives us a great opportunity to engage with our employees and members to highlight this crucial issue,” says Brendan. “We look at who is still excluded in our community and what we can do to create change. We want to do our part to solve these challenges and make a real difference in people’s lives. In this way, as a financial institution, we can demonstrate how our values and our purpose make us different as a company.”
How our community can support
To learn more about Jubilee Fund’s Rent Guarantee Program including filling out an application form, visit the program webpage or call Jubilee Fund at 204-589-5001.
If you would like to contribute to the program, there are also many other ways you can support Jubilee Fund including participation at events and online. Learn more about getting involved here.
● Make a donation to Jubilee Fund: You may choose to make a one-time contribution, a regular monthly donation or a legacy of caring donation in honour of a family member or friend.
● Get involved by sponsoring an event, joining the Board of Directors or becoming a member.
● Contact Jubilee Fund to learn more about how you can support the Rent Guarantee Program.
When our Manitoba community comes together, we can all make a difference to help women and children find and secure a safe place to call their own.
Jubilee Fund provides loans to community organizations to support projects that reduce poverty throughout Manitoba. Jubilee Investment Certificates can be purchased in three or five-year term deposits, and are pooled to create a single fund that secures loans from ACU. Learn more about investing in JICs, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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