CRESCENT VILLAGE – A Success Story
We are proud to celebrate 27 years since the first residents moved in 1993. We would like to share our successes over the last 25 years and all this has happened with the efforts of our very dedicated volunteer board members, efficient management staff and of course with the cooperation and involvement of our residents.
City of Richmond Hill’s Crescent Village is a thriving community located on a ten-acre plot with 198 housing units. It has all the characteristics in designs to promote Crescent Village as a community. In summer, one can find seniors sitting in the back yard of the units or on the benches outside the Community Centre socializing in communal fraternity, ladies in groups busy with their various programs and children having fun cycling or playing games within the area of the compound under the watchful eyes of their parents. In the evenings, one can see people gather to perform prayers and spend time to socialize before retiring to their homes.
Interesting and engaging programs are offered for all ages i.e. seniors, women, men, youths and children and everybody benefits. Speakers from various partner organizations from the main stream such as Sandgate Women’s Shelter, CHATS (Community and Home Assistance to Seniors) Social Service Network, York Region Police, to mention just a few, are invited to bring in programs to enhance knowledge of the participants and topics of interest are discussed. At Crescent Village there is community support for all who need help.
The oft-asked question is how did this project come about and bloom into a success story?
This project is a non-profit housing program jointly funded by both the Federal and Provincial Governments of Canada and Ontario. The aim is to help non-profit housing organizations to produce modest, cost-effective housing for persons with low to moderate income ranges, and this has been realized.
In 1988, the planning committee of the ISIJ under the Chairmanship of Br. Sajjad Ebrahim held a brain storming session concerning the future of our Jamaat. At that time, the concept of a housing project was proposed by Dr. Hyder Fazal. Soon thereafter the President of the Jamaat, Marhum Husseinbhai Bharwani, set the ball rolling by appointing Br. Sajjad Ebrahim to undertake the development of the Housing project. Dr. Hyder Fazal was also recruited to join the committee. Other committee members included Br. Murtaza Allibhai, Br. Hassanali Bhimji, Marhum Ghulam Sajan and Br. Raza Sumar. The first two years of the committee’s work included collection of data to justify such a project. While the need for such a project was being documented, there was a Provincial election in 1990 when the New Democratic Party of Mr. Bob Rae formed a majority Government. Funding for subsidized housing became available and it was an opportune time for our project to benefit from such funding. Once the funding was approved, Ja’Fari Islamic Housing Corporation, operating as Crescent Village, was registered in 1991. The hard work of negotiating the operational aspects of the project with the Ministry of Housing and other government agencies still lay ahead. The planning of the project also needed special attention followed by a daunting task of getting it passed by the then Richmond Hill Town Council against stiff opposition from some quarters in the neighborhood. As a result of the pivotal and dedicated role played by Br. Sajjad Ebrahim, the Project was completed in 1993 and the tenants moved in.
Br.Sajjad Ebrahim put in a lot of concerted efforts to translate the project from the concept and blue print to a reality on a solid footing. The housing committee assisted him in the task. While the construction was still on going, a team of 40 young volunteers, working in pairs, interviewed individuals who had applied to become tenants in the project. The interviews were conducted in the residences of the applicants so that the volunteers could accurately assess the need of the applicants for subsidized housing. They collected valuable data that was used by the committee in the final selection of the tenants.
An important feature of the Program is its emphasis on directing most of the housing assistance to families who are unable to obtain suitable, adequate and affordable rental housing in the private sector. There are about 170 families who reside in the project, 120 of whom pay subsidized rent geared to their income. Also, there are 28 units in the recently constructed Crescent Village Seniors Housing Corporation project where a total of 44 seniors reside and benefit from all the programs.
The Regional Municipality of York (the Region) manages and supervises the housing program which, pursuant to an operating agreement, ensures that standards and guidelines are met and observed. The Region under the direction of the Ministry of Housing of the Government of Ontario also defines the principles, objectives and guidelines for eligibility for applicants for subsidized housing. A low-income household resident is charged about 30% of the household income and the shortfall is subsidized by the Region.
The day to day running, financial management, legal matters, selection of tenants and compliance with the provisions of the Operating Agreement is in the hands of the Board of Directors of Crescent Village. The Board stays vigilant to ensure that Crescent Village is clean, safe, and welcoming. The project has the honor of being one of the best managed housing complexes and has established a reputation in cost effectiveness resulting in a healthy financial position.
Current Members of the Board are Mr. Sajjad Ebrahim, (President), Mr. Nazmul Damji, Mrs. Nargis Dungersi, Dr. Hyder Fazal, Mrs.Raziya Jaffer, Mr. Kassim Moledina, Mr. Mohamed Muraj and Mr. Bashir Versi. The Property Manager is Mrs. Hamida Merchant
and the assistant Property Manager is Mrs. Fatima Jaffer.
Over the last few years Crescent Village has partnered with many organizations such as Sandgate Women’s Shelter who have been very supportive to our single women who have been housed under the special priority criteria. The York Region School Board has assigned a Community Liaison Officer who helps out children/youths in both elementary and high schools with any issues pertaining to academics and social behaviour. Partnership with the York Region Police has also been very productive and fruitful in resolving safety issues. Mrs. Merchant is a member of their Community Liaison Program and attends meetings frequently. Police Officers in the community are welcome at the Crescent Village. Residents have appreciated their services and are comfortable talking to them and asking for their help when necessary.
In March 2012 CHATS – Community and Home Assistance to Seniors through funding from Long-term Health Integration Network under the Ministry of Health launched a two-day full program for seniors. As of today, the program is offered 5 days in a week and caters to 125 attendees. This program helps seniors who are vulnerable and in isolation to come and indulge in gentle exercise, acquire knowledge in health and wellness and take part in social and recreational activities. This program now has 30 people on the waiting list.
The community center is fully booked with several programs for seniors, ladies and men, the after-school program and youth program. Crescent Village has a youth web site and has hired a youth coordinator who runs programs for the youths. The Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2007 provided funding in the amount of $48,000.00 to run the youth programs and in 2009 in the amount of $81,000.00 to build basketball courts both of which have benefited the youth residents of the Crescent Village and its neighborhood. More recently we built a new recreation room to accommodate the increasing demand on our space.
In 2014, we received $221,000.00 over three years for youth programs from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. We partnered with two other housing providers i.e. Carpenters in Newmarket and Charles Darrow in Aurora. Mohamed Al Salem, who is the program coordinator, has posted many activities on the social media and has many followers. Our youths are our future and our focus is to engage our youths in many activities and help them achieve their full potential.
Most recently, we received $129,000.00 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to repair the basketball courts and install new benches and picnic tables. All the work will be carried out in the Fall this year. We are very thankful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for all the funding they have provided for various youth programs as well as capital funding for structural needs.
Last year, we received funding from the Federal Government for the installation of more security cameras. Safety for our residents is very important for us. Our aim is to make sure that Crescent Village is a safe place for all residents.
On October 18th, 2011 at the Recognition Award Night organized by the York Region, Crescent Village received a Certificate of Recognition for outstanding commitment and dedication to Community Engagement. This is a big achievement for Crescent Village Board and all its residents.
In November 2012, we received the Award for Excellence presented by ONPHA out of 742 providers across Ontario.
In 2017, large provider delegation throughout Ontario visited our site to learn about our operations and our successes. Most recently housing providers from Alberta and BC came over to our site to learn about our operations and partnerships.
Crescent Village is a role model for York Region and many other housing providers.
Our Property Manager, Mrs. Hamida Merchant, received Canada 150 Award in 2017 both from the Federal and Provincial Governments for community involvement.
Residents of the Crescent Village play a big role in our successes.
Thank you all for your co-operation and support.
The Board and Management look forward to many more years of successes.