Renters in low and moderate income households in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will have access to new rent banks in their communities.
A rent bank is a homelessness prevention tool designed to provide housing stability for renters who are unable to pay rent or utilities due to unanticipated expenses or emergencies. Rent banks provide small, interest-free loans to renters who have the ability to repay the loans over a period ranging from six months to two years. Rent banks may not be an option for renters who do not have any income source or capacity to repay a loan.
“We are working hard to expand the rent bank network in B.C. by partnering with non-profits in communities throughout the province to bring these much-needed rent bank services to even more people,” said Melissa Giles, BC Rent Bank’s project lead. “With funding from the provincial government, we have been able to provide seed funding to new locations and we’re achieving our mandate of supporting renters by preventing homelessness.”
Rent banks complement loans with access to other information and supports – such as financial advice, mediation between renters and landlords, or access to other community supports.
The most common uses of rent bank loans are for money owed for rent, payment of utilities, and security deposits and up-front costs to help people get access to housing.
“Dealing with an unexpected expense is difficult for a lot of families, especially during the pandemic,” said Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. “The new rent bank will provide much-needed support while people work to overcome those challenges.”
Lynda Fletcher-Gordon is the acting executive director of the Purpose Society, which is running three of the new rent banks in the Lower Mainland.
“With the expansion of rent bank services into Burnaby, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society now operates a total of four locations, including one in New Westminster, allowing us to provide people in these communities with much-needed services that focus on housing stability, resiliency and community well-being,” she said.
New rent banks in Burnaby, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are now open. Those in the Central Okanagan and the Nanaimo Region will start operations in January 2021.
Since BC Rent Bank was established in June 2019, the rent bank network in the province has doubled from seven in 2019, to 16 rent banks by January 2021.