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Vancouver Rent Bank Helps Low-Income Residents in Crisis

Today’s launch of the Vancouver Rent Bank means low-income residents facing potential eviction or loss of essential utilities due to a temporary financial crisis will be able to apply for interest-free loans under a new City of Vancouver initiative supported by key Vancouver partners and administered by the Network of Inner City Community Services Society (NICCSS).

October 10, 2012 -- Today’s launch of the Vancouver Rent Bank means low-income residents facing potential eviction or loss of essential utilities due to a temporary financial crisis will be able to apply for interest-free loans under a new City of Vancouver initiative supported by key Vancouver partners and administered by the Network of Inner City Community Services Society (NICCSS).

The Vancouver Rent Bank is funded by the City of Vancouver, Streetohome Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation.

“We know that many Vancouver residents are at risk of becoming homeless due to high rents and very low vacancy rates,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “That’s why this new Vancouver Rent Bank is a top priority in the City’s Affordable Housing and Homelessness strategy - it will reduce homelessness by helping to prevent an estimated 1,600 evictions. These small timely loans will help those residents regain their financial footing so they can continue to contribute to our community and local economy.”

  “Preventing individuals and families from becoming homeless is essential to solving homelessness in the long term,” said Rob Turnbull, President and CEO of Streetohome Foundation. “This exciting and innovative project will not only provide short‐term financial solutions, but also long‐term benefits, such as financial literacy training and connections to support services in Vancouver.”

The goal of the Vancouver Rent Bank is to reduce the high cost of homelessness for taxpayers by providing an option to renters in temporary financial crisis.

Program partners have also agreed to support the initiative through expertise and other services. Vancity will provide micro-loans advice to help facilitate the approval process, BC Hydro Power Smart kits will be provided to eligible clients to help reduce overall expenses and energy consumption and the UBC Department of Economics will help with data collection and analysis.

“Homelessness prevention, particularly for those in marginalized communities, continues to be a priority for us,” said Faye Wightman, President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation. “Access to affordable housing in Vancouver is more and more difficult, so we’re pleased to provide the Vancouver Rent Bank with not only the financial support for this critical program, but also the rent bank knowledge we have gained by supporting similar community programs in BC.”

"The Rent Bank has helped my daughter and I get a new place in our time of need. They were great!!" said one of the first recipients of a loan from the VRB.

In addition to providing loans for eligible clients, the VRB will provide advocacy and referral services to increase housing stability. In some cases, a loan from the VRB will not be sufficient to solve the initial crisis. The VRB will work with community organizations to provide the necessary additional supports to ensure the resources are effective at improving housing stability, and preventing the loss of housing.

“For NICCS, it really comes down to the helping individuals and families through difficult times,” said Kate Hodgson, the Executive Director of the Network of Inner City Community Services, the organization that administers the loan program. “We are excited to support this innovative and important program and administer these emergency interest-free loans to low-income Vancouver residents who are facing eviction due to short-term financial crisis.”

NICCSS is administering the Vancouver Rent Bank. NICCSS is a consortium of community-based organizations, resident groups and consumer groups who work together to coordinate and deliver services to children and families and individuals. Existing programs are focused on Vancouver's inner-city population and addressing gaps in existing social services for residents in city neighbourhoods.

For more information about the Vancouver Rent Bank or an application form, visit niccss.ca/vrb or call 604-566-9685.

Media contacts:

Network of Inner City Community Services
Kate Hodgson
Executive Director
604.351-8095
khodgson@niccss.ca

City of Vancouver
Corporate Communications
604.871.6336
media@vancouver.ca

Christina Panagio
Streetohome Foundation
604.629.2711 ex 103
christinap@streetohome.org

Vancouver Foundation
Communications
604.688.2204

 

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