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Vancouver Rent Bank saves residents from losing their homes

Vancouver Rent Bank saves residents from losing their homes

In its first year of operation, the Vancouver Rent Bank (VRB) program has prevented evictions for over 200 people through the use of small, interest-free loans to help them through a temporary financial crisis.

Since October 2012, the VRB has approved 137 interest-free loans, helping 228 people - including 39 children - avoid losing their homes due to eviction. The loans are granted to people in imminent danger of losing their housing, and are interest free up to 24 months.

The Vancouver Rent Bank is a multi-partner initiative involving the City of Vancouver, Streetohome Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, UBC and the Vancity Community Foundation.  The program is administered by the Network of Inner City Community Services Society (NICCSS).

“The Rent Bank has proven to be a successful tool for helping low-income renters keep their homes in crisis situations,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “It is gratifying to see that one year later, the Rent Bank is making a real difference in people’s lives, preventing homelessness and delivering housing stability for people who need it. This is a key part of our Affordable Housing and Homelessness Plan and I want to thank all of our partners who have helped make it so effective.”

In its first year of operations, the Rent Bank had an estimated 1200 telephone inquiries for loans and over 500 pre-assessments, which led to outreach and tenant advocacy that helped secure housing and avoid loans. The average loan is $906 and is achieving a repayment rate of over 90%.

“Over the last year, the Vancouver Rent Bank has proven to be a cost-effective solution to keep people securely housed in their own homes,” said Frank Giustra, Radcliffe Foundation President and Streetohome Foundation Board Member. “We can all be proud of a project that in just one year has prevented over 200 people from becoming homeless.”

The primary reason cited for a loan request was underemployment, followed by family crisis and job loss. The majority of loan recipients were men over the age of 45, and 87% of recipients were from single income homes.

Although the Vancouver Rent Bank has been effective in helping people avoid eviction, the range of people seeking loans shows that there is a growing need to support low-income renters, says the NICCSS. “People from all walks of are turning to the Rent Bank in times of crisis,” said NICCSS spokesperson Amanda Pollicino. “Rent Banks are an effective way to help people keep their housing and avoid homelessness, but the Rent Bank is just one part of the solution. We’re seeing increasing demand for supports for renters, particularly for single income households which often do not qualify for provincial rental subsidy programs.”

In 2012, Vancouver City Council approved a contribution of $148,000 over three years to support the operating costs of the rent bank. Streetohome Foundation will provide loan capital over the three years, made possible through a $365,800 donation from The Radcliffe Foundation. The Vancouver Foundation is contributing $90,000 towards operating costs. These financial contributions are matched by in kind support from the Network of Inner City Community Services, VanCity, and UBC. The program is similar to existing rent banks in Toronto, Fraser Valley, Kamloops, and Surrey.

“Building pathways to home is one of the fundamental tenets of our work at Vancouver Foundation in homelessness prevention,” said Kevin McCort, President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation. “We are encouraged that in its first year, the Vancouver Rent Bank is a proven model of success, both as an important pathway to housing stability and contributing to the quality of life for over 200 Vancouver residents.”

In addition to providing loans for eligible clients, the VRB works with clients providing advocacy and referral services to increase housing stability, as well as providing financial literacy training. For more information, please visit http://www.niccss.ca/VRB

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Media contacts:
City of Vancouver
Corporate Communications
604.871.6336
media@vancouver.ca

Network of Inner City Community Services
Kate Hodgson
Executive Director
604.569.2787
khodgson@niccss.ca

Streetohome Foundation
Lindsay Yuasa
Communications
604.629.2711 ex 103
lindsayy@streetohome.org

Vancouver Foundation
Martin Livingston
Communications
604.629.5184
martin.livingston@vancouverfoundation.ca