Kamloops set to boost rent bank

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KAMLOOPS - A program aimed at helping working people struggling to pay their rent is set to get a boost from the city through affordable housing funding.

Administered by the Elizabeth Fry Society, the rent bank has been helping individuals and families by providing loans to help cover rental costs for just over two years. One-time emergency loans of up to $1,000 are used to help renters avoid being evicted.

The program is seen as an effective way to prevent dependence on emergency shelters or subsidized housing and is aimed at helping to prevent homelessness by helping the working poor stay in their homes. Tenants seeking loans are also encouraged to take part in financial management training.

The number of contributors and donors to the program grows every year and with an 85 per cent repayment rate on loans it provides, the long-term objective of having the program become self-funded and self-sustaining is well underway.

The city is now looking to offer funding directly to the program as well. Currently funding is provided to the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund to help provide assistance to developers and landlords looking to develop affordable rental options.

The fund currently is valued at more than $1 million and the request is to allow $15,000 per year be directed to the rent bank, for a five-year term.

In a 2013 study the Homelessness Action Plan identified a need for more than 2,200 additional affordable housing units, including 1,600 needed within the ‘private market’ rental housing category.

Council will make a decision on the funding Tuesday, Feb. 17 at a regular council meeting.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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