Low to moderate-income renters across the province now have access to rent bank services, aimed at keeping people housed.
According to Melissa Giles, BC Rent Bank project manager, the service provides no-interest loans to people who may be in an urgent housing situation.
“We’re really focused on keeping people housed or helping them move into safe and affordable housing. We do that by offering financial resources in the form of a loan,” said Giles. “You would apply, and if you qualify we would issue that payment and then you repay that loan on an interest-free basis over the next few years. We’re trying to make that bite-sized pieces that people can pay back on a month-to-month basis.”
BC Rent Bank is temporarily partnering with Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society to help centralize rent bank services throughout the province.
B.C. Government officials said this will help communities that did not previously have rent bank services will be able to help residents stay in housing.
“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 Giles. “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.”
That said, those applying must have some kind of income so the loan can be paid back.
“It’s not a solution for every renter out there, but we know that for those that do qualify, it really works effectively,” said Giles.
Rent bank services are supported by a $10-million investment from the provincial government.