A Housing Registry And So Much More
UJA Federation's Jewish Information Service of Greater Toronto (JIST)
If you’re looking for information on anything Jewish, from the name of a good mohel to details about UJA Federation's annual Walk With Israel, you might want to call JIST. But did you know JIST maintains a Housing Registry as well?
UJA Federation’s Jewish Information Service of Greater Toronto (JIST) has been fielding questions since 1975 about everything under the sun, according to JIST Administrative Assistant, Fran Augenblick.
And while JIST staff and volunteers don’t refer to themselves as the Jewish Know-It-Alls, it’s clear that they have a wealth of Jewish GTA information.
“People call or email and we do our best to act as ambassadors for the community,” says Augenblick. “JIST tries to give each person the best possible resolution to their problem.”
It was from one such inquiry that JIST’s Housing Registry was launched.
“Sometime in the 1970s, JIST received a call from a woman who said she had a room available for rent,” says Augenblick. “Her information was recorded on an index card, and just filed away in a recipe box.”
“Later that month, someone else called, asking if we knew about any local apartments for rent. Bingo! We gave the woman’s phone number to the caller and, at that moment, JIST’s Housing Registry was formed.”
While JIST is the matchmaker in these scenarios, the listing remains an informal arrangement, according to Barbara Barak, JIST Senior Coordinator.
"We maintain JIST’s Housing Registry as a free community service," says Barak. "Most listings are rooms, basement apartments and shared accommodation, and are provided by older homeowners. While these homeowners expect a fair market value for their units, they may not be comfortable with other online rental services."
"We record the general intersection of each listing, so that if we get an inquiry for a certain area of the city, we can put the two parties in touch with one another," says Netta Greenblatt, longtime JIST volunteer. "Some senior callers offer a reduced rent in exchange for light housekeeping and companionship. This is often the perfect solution for a cash-strapped student or new immigrant."
Homeowners and tenants seem satisfied with this low-key setup. "It's all word-of-mouth," says Greenblatt. "JIST does not screen the rental units, the landlords or the tenants. We simply try to fill this need in the community by making a shidduch (match) whenever we can."
If you have accomodations for rent, or are looking for a rental in the city, contact JIST’s Housing Registry at (416) 635-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jewish Information Service of Greater Toronto (JIST) has been a vital service of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto since 1975.