B.C. Rent Bank is setting up five new rent banks and one of them will serve people in the Nanaimo area.
B.C. Rent Bank, a Vancity Community Foundation project funded by the B.C. government, provides small interest-free loans to renters when their ability to pay rent is compromised due to emergencies or other circumstances, noted a press release from B.C. Rent Bank.
The Nanaimo centre will also serve Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Lantzville and will start up in January.
John McCormick, co-executive director of the John Howard Society in Nanaimo, said in the release that the opening of a rent bank in the region is “truly significant and needed” and said it’s the result of a co-ordinated community effort with the City of Nanaimo and stakeholders.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the already unprecedented levels of precariously housed community members,” McCormick said. “That, combined with rental stock in historic low supply, means that the creation of the Nanaimo rent bank is enthusiastically supported as a valuable option to help low- to moderate income renters to remain housed.”
Melissa Giles, B.C. Rent Bank project lead, said in the release faster implementation of new rent bank locations was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She thanked partners including local governments and said B.C. Rent Bank recognizes “the heavy lifting that our non-profit partners are doing to ensure that greater housing stability is accessible to low- to moderate income renters and their families within their communities.”
The release noted that in addition to providing loans, rent banks advocate on behalf of renters, mediate landlord-tenant discussions and provide referrals to other social agencies and government programs.
David Eby, B.C.’s minister responsible for housing, said at the end of September, rent banks helped 800 individuals and families maintain rental housing, and offered other forms of support to another 5,000.
“Rent banks are an important tool that British Columbians on low and moderate incomes can use to keep a roof over their heads during these uncertain times,” Eby said in the release.
Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MLA, added in a separate news release that her party is committed to supporting renters and addressing the housing crisis.
“People are still struggling with housing costs here, so we’re working hard to make sure a missed rent cheque doesn’t risk homelessness,” Malcolmson said. “With new tools we’re bringing to Nanaimo to help people bridge the gap in emergencies, we are strengthening resiliency in our community and local economy.”