B.C. becomes first province to provide 100% rent bank coverage

The BC Rent Bank’s services have been extended to other areas of British Columbia, bringing the total geographic coverage of the province to 100 percent.

Vancity Community Foundation’s initiative aids low- to moderate-income renters by providing them with access to interest-free loans in times of need. When they have outstanding rent, such assistance ensures that they are not evicted.

It’s meant to be a temporary, short-term fix for renters who lose their jobs, and it works to save people from becoming homeless. The loans can be used to pay for rent, needed utilities, or the first month’s rent deposit for tenants who have found housing but are unable to meet the first requirements.

BC Rent Bank’s most recent expansion brings their services to Vancouver Island, the southern Okanagan, and the province’s northern regions, which previously had access to rent bank loans. This is accomplished through a temporary agreement with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Kamloops and District.

“Today, renters in every corner of BC have access to rent bank loans and services. This is a major milestone for our project to achieve, considering that two years ago there were seven rent bank locations primarily in the Metro Vancouver area,” said Melissa Giles, project manager for BC Rent Bank, in a statement.

“Rent banks are much more than lenders. We are very much focused on the whole person – the renter who is experiencing housing insecurity and financial shocks – and we are striving to care for their well-being beginning with stable and safe housing.”

The BC Rent Bank was started in 2019 as a three-year trial project, with the present framework set to terminate in 2022, thanks to a $10 million investment from the provincial government. It is anticipated that it will be renewed.

According to the program’s most recent status report, it received 613 applications for help in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, resulting in the award of 265 loans. A total of 4,337 persons profited from this (all individuals living in a household).

The programme received 994 applicants in the second fiscal year, 2020-2021. A total of 4,351 people benefited from the bank’s assistance, which included 405 loans, 449 grants, and 53 grants/loan combinations.

During the first two fiscal years, the rent bank’s assistance benefited roughly 8,700 people.

According to their survey of recipients three months after receiving assistance, 100% of renters who received a loan or a grant/loan combination were still stably housed, 82 percent of renters who received a loan were still stably housed, and 83 percent of people who received a grant and loan combination stated the rent bank as the primary reason they stayed housed.

Despite the economic consequences of COVID-19, however, the rent bank’s services were used less in 2020. The provincial and federal governments’ temporary ban on rent evictions, temporary rent freeze, and other supplements and grants covering rent and lost income resulted in less reliance on the rent bank during the pandemic. However, since that these government programmes have largely stopped, an increase in demand is projected in the future.

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