Case worker Steve Wizzard wants renters in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to know the rent bank can help them get through tough times. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Case worker Steve Wizzard wants renters in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to know the rent bank can help them get through tough times. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Rent bank not being used by Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows tenants

Lack of awareness about availability of no-interest loans to blame: Wizzard

When you’re business is giving out money, you expect to be busy.

The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Rent Bank doesn’t exactly give money away, but it does provide interest-free loans for renters who are in danger of disappointing their landlords.

Steve Wizzard is a case worker at the local rent bank, which is run by the Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families. He said a shocking number of people don’t know the rent bank exists, or what it is.

So working people who are struggling continue to use the services of payroll loan offices, which charge what he considers high fees for their loans. By contrast, rent banks allow low payments over multiple months – even years.

Anyone who is behind on their rent, needs assistance with next month’s rent, or behind in paying essential utilities is a potential client for the rent bank.

Funding for the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Rent Bank has been provided by BC Rent Bank. The local office officially opened its doors in November 2020.

To date, it has supported just 15 people to remain housed.

By comparison, Wizzard noted that when a rent bank opened in Victoria, there were hundreds of applications in the first weeks.

One of the problems is the Maple Ridge location. Although the office is in the downtown core, on Dewdney Trunk Road, the main entrance is tucked away. It is beside the main entrance to Club 16, Trevor Linden Fitness, and is underneath a set of stairs to rooftop parking.

Wizzard simply knows there is demand that is not being met, he said.

READ ALSO: Rent banks open in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows for tenants in need

READ ALSO: Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Many Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows renters have been impacted by the pandemic and public health orders resulting in layoffs, decreased work hours and businesses closing their doors. Low to moderate income renters are struggling to meet their monthly expenses, pay rent and are feeling the stress of possible eviction in the midst of a housing affordability crisis.

Rent banks help renters maintain their housing by providing low to moderate income households with no interest, low fee loans. Loans up to $1,400 for single renters and up to $1,700 for families (two or more people in a family relationship) are available. The repayment of these loans is within flexible time frames, to further assist people during this unexpected crises.

Rent banks assist both the clients and the landlords, as landlords are able to support and keep good tenants, he said. This leads to a more positive relationship between the renter and the landlord as well as providing housing stability.

The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Rent Bank office is located at Suite 300 (third floor), 22420 Dewdney Trunk Rd.

Call 604-368-4585 or email mapleridgerentbank@purposesociety.org


Have a story tip? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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