BC Rent Bank helps people stay out of homelessness. Black Press stock photo

BC Rent Bank helps people stay out of homelessness. Black Press stock photo

BC Rent Bank pitched for Campbell River

Program provides loans to keep people housed

Campbell River could be seeing a new fund set up to help people make their next rent payment, keeping them in their rentals before they are evicted and forced into an even more difficult situation.

Melissa Giles, the project lead for BC Rent Bank made a presentation to the Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness on March 4 about the BC Rent Bank initiative, which was set up in 2019 as a result of the provincial government’s homelessness and housing task force study. One of the 23 recommendations that came from that study was to establish a network of rent banks, which are essentially loan funds for people who need a bit extra help once in a while.

The idea is to help people make their monthly rent payments, or payments in arrears to landlords or utilities to prevent evictions from happening. BC Rent Bank also gives financial advice and helps ensure people make the best decision and can move forward instead of being bogged down by debt.

“We ideally want to help people before they experience that eviction, and they experience the increased costs associated with transitioning homes as well as moving costs and increased rent,” she said. “As soon as you move a rental, it seems to be more expensive the next day. We want to try and keep people housed.”

The focus of a rent bank is on low to moderate income earners, which are defined by BC Housing’s Housing Income Limits (HILs). HILs represent the maximum income for assistance elligibility, and reflect the minimum household income required to afford housing in the rental market. In Campbell River, the 2021 HIL for a one bedroom apartment is $37,000. A two bedroom is $42,500, three is $62,500 and four or more bedrooms is $75,000.

The goal is to help people who are at the point of crisis and need some funds to keep them housed. The interest free loans are given, and repayment begins when the client is back on their feet. The exact mechanism by which these payments are received or repayed varies by the community in which it operates.

“The idea is that, you’re a single parent, you may not have full benefits at work, your child is sick and you have to miss a couple of days of work and you have to figure out how to buy groceries and pay rent on a reduced income,” Giles said. “Or if you use your car for work and it breaks down and you’re stuck. Do you pay your car payment or your rent payment?”

While Giles’ presentation was just a proposal and nothing is official yet, attendees at the meeting were interested in bringing a program like this to Campbell River.

Check back for more updates as they are available.

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