How to Help


Poverty is not just a question of income Ė itís also a question of savings and assets. Building savings and assets is one of SEDIís most progressive approaches to alleviating poverty and fostering independence. The idea is to enable poor and working poor Canadians to save more money faster, in order to acquire assets such as a new business, post secondary education, job training, or owning a home. Our Asset-building projects involve a combination of money, investment and financial training, with a focus on linking low-income persons and communities with local non-profit agencies and financial institutions.  

SEDI offers two exciting asset-building project calledand . Another initiative called is currently in the works.

One of the most important assets is education. From 2001 to 2003, SEDI offered over 3,600 low-income earners an exciting chance to boost their savings so that they could go back to school, obtain skills training, or start a new small business. matches the savings each participant puts aside in an Individual Development Account (IDA), dollar for dollar, paid directly to the school or institution . Through the IDA, participants can build their personal savings and earn a credit for a matching amount by saving as little as $10 a month over 1 to 3 years. In most areas, the personal savings are being matched at $3 for every dollar saved up to the first $1,500. This matching contribution puts low-income Canadians on an equal footing with higher income Canadians who can afford to put away more of their own money.  To date our participants have saved over $3.5 million and leveraged over $9.5 million in matched contributions.

Between 2001 and 2003, partner organizations recruited candidates in 10 communities across the country. Recruitment is now complete.

This project is the largest of its kind in the world. Itís delivered in partnership with the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) and is funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

For more information oncontact Barbara Gosse at, or visit the Publications section of this website for updates and details.

The income of the poor and working poor and their ability to generate wealth is not keeping pace with the increasing cost of adequate, affordable housing across the country.  However, there is increasing evidence that providing low-income people with the right mix of financial and training incentives is a means of facilitating their entry into the mainstream housing and rental markets.  Community consultations conducted by SEDI, and funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the National Secretariat on Homelessness over the past two years, have confirmed that low-income consumers and community housing practitioners agree with this assertion.

SEDI's research has also confirmed that the IDA methodology could be used to assist individuals and families in transitional or supportive housing to gain access to appropriate and affordable private market rental housing.


SEDI proposed a form of an IDA, called an Independent Living Account, or ILA, which could provide the necessary mix of financial incentives and services needed to increase the self-sufficiency of people living in transitional housing. Therefore, a formalized demonstration project aimed at assisting this population to access private rental accommodation is both sensible and timely.


Enrolment in an ILA project, administered by community-based agencies, will allow participants to save for first and last months rent, or other related goals, in a supportive environment. It has been demonstrated, through anecdotal evidence, that the direct link with such an agency and by participating in a financial management-training course increases successful savings rates. Ultimately if the participant's personal savings goals are attained, a financial asset is created along with the related personal benefits attained through participation on the project including direct participation in the economic mainstream.


SEDI commenced the administration of this project in September 2004 with funding from the National Secretariat on Homelessness. This innovative project is operating in Toronto, Fredericton and Edmonton. It is expected that over 170 participants will be enrolled.


For more information on the ILA Project contact Barbara Gosse, Program Coordinator at

A home is more than a place to live Ė itís also a cornerstone of financial security and provides significant stability for families from today through to tomorrow. For the working poor, owning a home seems downright impossible. Existing government home buyer and tax credit programs are out of reach for low-income earners, and in major cities like Toronto where home prices are so high, there isnít nearly enough affordable housing to meet the demand. SEDI is in the process of designing a national demonstration project called that will give low-income Canadians a place to turn. By putting money aside in an Individual Development Account (IDA), participants can build their personal savings and earn a credit for a matching amount. The savings donít have to be big, as long as they are consistent. Bit by bit, enough money is saved to put a downpayment on a home. SEDI is currently working in partnership with community groups, financial partners and government agencies to get this project started.


In May 2004 SEDI was contracted by CMHC to commence the design phase of the pilot project.  With interest from both the public and private sector, including the Provincial Government of Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba as well as from the Cities of Hamilton (Hamilton Community Housing), City of Toronto (Toronto Community Housing Corporation and the Regent Park redevelopment), Cities of Regina, Saskatoon, Montreal, Fredericton and Halifax, various financial institutions and as well as both national and international agencies, SEDI is fuelled to enter into this critical start-up phase of this important project.

Visit this page again soon for updates. For more information in the meantime, contact Barbara Gosse at

You will find a variety of reference materials on asset-building in our Resources section.