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Kamloops organization partners with B.C. Rent Bank to offer interest free loans

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

The Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society has partnered with the B.C. Rent Bank to extend rent bank coverage across the province.

The rent bank provides interest-free loans for tenants at risk of losing their housing, which will now be centralized at the Kamloops Elizabeth Fry Society, according to a news release from the B.C. Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing issued today, Nov. 23.

"Today, renters in every corner of B.C. have access to rent bank loans and services. This is a major milestone for our project to achieve, considering that two years ago there were seven rent bank locations primarily in the Metro Vancouver area," B.C. Rent Bank project manager Melissa Giles said.

"Rent banks are much more than lenders. We are very much focused on the whole person - the renter who is experiencing housing insecurity and financial shocks - and we are striving to care for their well-being beginning with stable and safe housing."

The expansion of the rent bank program through Vancity Community Foundation brings services to 15 new regional districts and the last 8% of the population, including the South Okanagan.

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The Elizabeth Fry Society will partner on the project on an interim basis, while the province financially supports the rent bank through a $10 million investment.

"We are excited to take on this interim role because we understand first-hand that there is a deep need for rent bank services and being able to receive these applications translates into many more renters having access to emergency funding to stabilize their housing,"Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society executive director Cassandra Schwarz said in the release.

Rent banks are a homelessness prevention tool and offer stability for tenants experiencing unexpected interruptions to income, the ministry said. The loans can be applied to rent, utilities, a deposit or first month's rent.

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"I'd like to extend my gratitude to the B.C. Rent Bank and Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society for its work to help people in financial distress in our province," Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby said in the release.

"Rent banks are temporary solutions for some people in housing crisis. While they are not the ultimate solution to affordable housing generally, the services rent banks offer are vital to prevent homelessness and must be available to all British Columbians. I'm very proud these essential services are now offered in every part of the province."

In January 2021, Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna partnered with B.C. Rent Bank to offer the services to low and mid-income people in that area.

More information about B.C. Rent Bank, including locations across the province, can be found here.

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