Central Okanagan rent bank to open next month | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan rent bank to open next month

December 02, 2020 - 5:28 PM

Renters in low- to moderate-income households throughout the Central Okanagan will have access to brand-new rent banks starting in January 2021.

"With the pressures from the rising cost of living, there are many people who are only a paycheque or two away from not being able to pay their rent,” Shelagh Turner, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna and District Branch said in a press release. “The launch of the Central Okanagan Rent Bank pilot in January 2021 will help to increase housing stability in our community by offering interest-free, repayable loans to eligible renters in the Central Okanagan."

A rent bank is described as “a homelessness prevention tool” for renters in low- to moderate-income households unable to pay rent or utilities due to unanticipated expenses or emergencies that compromise their ability to pay. Rent banks provide small, interest-free loans to renters who have the ability to repay the loans over a six- to 24-month period. Those who are unable to repay a loan may not qualify for the service.

Rent banks complement loans with access to other information and supports – including financial advice, mediations between renters and landlords, or access to other community supports and services to help stabilize an individual’s housing in the future. The most common uses of rent bank loans are money owed for rent, payment of utilities that are overdue and security deposit or first month’s rent to help people gain access to housing.

Rent banks in B.C. also advocate on behalf of individuals to landlord/tenancy boards, utilities corporations, mediate conversations between individual tenants and their landlords and others, provide referrals to other agencies for access to food, clothing, transportation support, and help tenants to access government subsidies, programs and/or benefits that individuals may be eligible for.

"We are working hard to expand the rent bank network in B.C. by partnering with non-profits in communities throughout the province to bring these much-needed rent bank services to even more people,” says Melissa Giles, BC Rent Bank said in a press release. “With funding from the provincial government, we have been able to provide seed funding to new locations and we’re achieving our mandate of supporting renters by preventing homelessness.”

Since B.C. Rent Bank was established in June 2019, the rent bank network in the province has doubled from seven in 2019, to 16 rent banks by January 2021. Renters can find rent banks in: Burnaby; Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope, Agassiz, Harrison), Thompson-Nicola (Kamloops, Merritt, Chase, Clearwater); Maple Ridge; the Nanaimo Region; New Westminster; North Vancouver; Pitt Meadows; Prince George; Richmond; Sunshine Coast; Surrey (Surrey, White Rock, Delta); Langley (Township and City); Tri-Cities (Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody); and Vancouver.

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