Independent Living Account

Stable, secure housing can mean independence and greater financial self-sufficiency for people and families living in shelters and transitional housing.

The Independent Living Account (ILA) program, which was administered by Prosper Canada from 2006 to 2014, provided financial literacy education. The City of Toronto and TD Bank Group contributed funding and support.

The ILA program helped people develop financial knowledge and skills, and gave them access to the mainstream financial institutions they needed to live independently. A huge bonus was the savings-matching program that multiplied even modest savings.

The ILA Program was offered in seven Toronto shelters:

  • The Fort York Residences
  • Na Me Res - Sagatay
  • Salvation Army Harbour Light
  • St. Clare’s Residence - St. Vincent de Paul
  • Eva’s Phoenix
  • Youth Without Shelter
  • YMCA – Sprott House

Through the ILA program, participants:

  • opened a bank account and saved at least $10 dollars a month for at least six months;
  • provided monthly bank statements to their shelter case manager to help track their savings;
  • received $3 in matched savings for every dollar they saved.
  • learned about money management through workshops at their shelter.

Savings and matched savings could be used for first and last month’s rent, apartment insurance, utility hookups, and/or employment needs, such as tools of a trade.

Over 500 shelter residents participated in the program. Collectively, they saved over $160,000 from the time the initial pilot program began, leveraging a further $360,000 in matching funds to support their move to self-sufficiency. Two hundred and thirty-six shelter residents were able to successfully move to permanent housing.