Rent bank offers Vancouver residents relief
City of Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang during the launch of the Rent Bank press conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday October 10, 2012, The Vancouver Rent Bank means low-income residents facing potential eviction or loss essential utilities due to temporary financial crisis will be able to apply for interest free loans under the City of Vancouver initiative support. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Vancouverites in dire straits won’t be forced to break their piggy banks to pay their bills following the official launch of the city’s first rent bank Wednesday, coinciding with World Homeless Day.
The Network of Inner City Community Services Society, the non-profit organization administering the project, estimates it will provide 150 no-interest loans annually in an effort to keep people off the streets.
“You can’t just look at just the street homeless population. You have to look at how people get there,” NICCSS executive director Kate Hodgson said, adding low-income residents can apply for the one-time loans at community centres in Strathcona, Marpole and the West End.
“The rent bank is one tool in what we hope will be a continuing preventative service (for homelessness).”
The Streetohome Foundation is providing NICCSS with $150,000 in annual funding, which includes a $366,000 contribution from the Radcliffe Foundation, over the next three years.
Hodgson said she hopes to keep providing advances on rent in perpetuity as long as the loans are repaid within 24 months. B.C.’s three other rent banks report an average repayment rate of 70%.
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang said the rent bank would prevent as many as 1,600 evictions a year.
“It’s time to work on preventing that number (Vancouver’s homeless population) from growing permanently. Programs like this are a big step in that direction.”
NICCSS managing director Amanda Pollicino said the loans have already saved seven people from being evicted since Vancouver Rent Bank’s soft launch on Sept. 4.