Low-income families at risk of losing their home will soon get a reprieve as the City of Vancouver is set to adopt a rent bank.
Council is expected to approve a grant for $49,600 a year (for three years) for the administration of a Vancouver rent bank next week.
Once up and running, the bank will be able to provide small emergency loans to help people with temporary financial difficulty pay rent.
The model is based on successful rent banks already operating in Surrey, Prince George, Victoria and the entire province of Ontario.
“This helps low-income families right on the cusp of losing their homes,” said Coun. Kerry Jang. “It makes more sense to loan a family $800, and have them pay it back, than make them lose their homes, their possessions and have them end up in a shelter that costs us $2,500 a month per person.”
Vancouver West-End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert started lobbying for a rent bank in Vancouver and says he’s been horrified by stories of people’s suffering.
“This is a homeless-prevention tool. It’s much kinder and cheaper to keep people in their homes,” he said. “It’s horrifying when you hear about a woman who couldn’t pay her rent one month because of a sickness and she ends up living in a van for two years.”
A study conducted by the University of British Columbia will track the effectiveness of the rent bank.
If the report shows that banks are a success, Chandra Herbert hopes the provincial government will look at implementing them provincewide in the same way Ontario has done.
Council will vote on the grants Tuesday.