City of Toronto launches website to encourage residents to donate housing, goods, services for Syrian refugees settling in Toronto

TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2016 /CNW/ - As part of the City of Toronto's Refugee Resettlement Program, WoodGreen Community Services has launched a website called H.O.M.E., short for Housing Opportunities and Marketplace Exchange. The website matches Syrian refugees with housing, goods and services from donors, both businesses and individuals, to help Syrian refugees who are settling in Toronto. Refugees, sponsors, landlords or donors can access H.O.M.E online at http://www.woodgreen.org.

"You can help new Torontonians feel welcome and settle quickly into their new home by visiting this website and donating items like furniture, clothes or housing," said Mayor John Tory. "Our response is the best demonstration of what Toronto represents as a city. I am proud of how we have come together to open our arms and welcome our new residents."

WoodGreen, along with the donated services of Deloitte and the Konrad Group have come together to create a new online portal to match Syrian refugees in need with offers of housing, goods and services. Based on an application built by Vlocity, H.O.M.E. allows donors - both businesses and individuals - to post available housing, goods and services to help Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto.

"WoodGreen is thrilled to announce the launch of our new H.O.M.E. portal," said Anne Babcock, President and CEO of WoodGreen Community Services. "We know that housing is a major need for the refugees arriving in Toronto, and we wanted to create a central place where people could post offers of available housing and other goods and services."

"The H.O.M.E. portal is an incredible example of a private-public sector partnership resulting in a fantastic tool that will ease the settlement process for refugees who have already faced great hardships," said Ian Tait, Partner at Deloitte. "Deloitte and our partners the Konrad Group and Vlocity are thrilled we were able to help develop the H.O.M.E. portal and provide support for the new members of the Toronto community."

City funding has enabled WoodGreen to also launch an in-person Housing Help Service at 815 Danforth Ave. (WoodGreen's address) to provide ongoing support to Syrian refugees and their sponsors by providing assistance in locating housing, as well as providing referrals to other service providers and linking them to other useful resources, including language training, employment, education and healthcare.

The City began actively implementing its Refugee Resettlement Program, which has included launching http://www.toronto.ca/refugees, last October. Activity has included hosting information fairs to connect sponsors, refugees and potential sponsors with agencies that provide settlement services and entering into service agreements with community agencies to increase supports and resources available to new Torontonians and their sponsors.

City Council named Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina) and Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St. Paul's) as its Newcomer Advocates to help promote the integration and inclusion of refugees in the civic, economic and cultural life of the city.

WoodGreen Community Services is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto. A founding United Way of Toronto member agency, WoodGreen has grown to span 36 locations and it serves 37,000 people each year. WoodGreen helps people find safe, affordable housing, seniors live independently, internationally-trained professionals enter the job market, parents access childcare, children and youth access after-school programs, newcomers settle in to Canadian life, homeless and marginalized people get off the streets and youth find meaningful employment and training. More information is available at http://www.woodgreen.org.

Deloitte, one of Canada's leading professional services firms, provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private companies limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. More information is available at http://www.deloitte.com.

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.

SOURCE City of Toronto

For further information: Media contacts: Vera Dodic, Toronto Newcomer Office, 416-392-5679, 647-465-1757 (cell), vdodic@toronto.ca; Jessica Malone, WoodGreen Community Services, 416-645-6000 (extension 4015), 416-616-7186 (cell), jmalone@woodgreen.org; Emily Richardson, Deloitte, 416-202-2872, 416-294-5633 (cell), emrichardson@deloitte.ca

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