City announces rent bank for vulnerable residents
By DENISE RYAN, Vancouver SunMarch 22, 2012 9:10 AM
The City of Vancouver announced a three-year commitment today to help fund a rent bank that will provide emergency loans for low-income citizens in danger of eviction.
Photograph by: ian lindsay, Vancouver Sun FilesThe City of Vancouver announced a three-year commitment to help fund a rent bank that will provide emergency loans for low-income citizens in danger of eviction.
The rent bank will provide one-time loans to employed renters whose housing is threatened by financial difficulties.
"The rent bank will help people get over the hump," said Coun. Kerry Jang. "We don't want families in desperate need to be choosing between paying rent and buying food."
Loans will be given for rents or housing-related costs in arrears, such as utility bills, and could help an estimated 540 people in the coming three years.
The loans are designed for singles, couples and families who may be living paycheque to paycheque and find themselves in financial crisis.
Applicants must show need, and demonstrate that they have a viable means for repayment over a two-year period.
Recipients must participate in a financial literacy course to help them budget and prevent future need.
The need for a rent bank was identified in the city's 2011 homeless and housing plan, said Jang.
"That showed there were a huge number of people in Vancouver that were at risk. You have to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place."
The city is providing $148,800 over three years toward the Vancouver Rent Bank's operating costs.
Streetohome Foundation is providing $551,000 over three years, and additional funds will be provided by the Vancouver foundation and the Vancity Community Foundation.
Dick Vollet, CEO of Streetohome, said the rent bank is an important strategy in homelessness prevention. Similar programs have operated successfully, with high repayment rates, in Toronto, Surrey, Prince George and the Fraser Valley.
The cost of eviction, losing housing and housing homeless people over time is much greater than the cost of a repayable rent bank loan that can keep people in their homes, said Vollet.
The Network of Inner City Community Services will administer the Vancouver Rent Bank. The organization will be accepting applications for loans beginning in August 2012.
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