‘An unbelievably horrible experience’: A Jewish housing advocate reflects on months of homeless living—and explains a way forward

Mara Shnay, a founding member of the Jewish Family Services' Client Advisory Committee and housing advocate in Vancouver. (Supplied photo)

As the hosts of Bonjour Chai sat in their temporary dwellings to celebrate Sukkot, they got to thinking about housing—specifically, affordable housing in the Jewish community, where just paying rent can be a challenge.

Across Canada, as of September 2022, the average cost of rent shot up 15.4 percent from the previous year, averaging $2,043 per month. The most expensive areas, of course, are in and around Vancouver and Toronto, which happen to be home to a majority of Canada’s Jews.

How should the Jewish community address this issue? What are our responsibilities? How can we help when many who are experiencing a housing crisis are often invisible? We discuss these issues with Mara Shnay, a founding member of the Jewish Family Services’ Client Advisory Committee.

What we talked about


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.