British Columbians face some of the highest housing costs in the country. With 45% of renters in BC spending more than 30% of their income on rent – and many still financially recovering from the pandemic – the availability of short-term financial help to keep their housing is more important than ever.
Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) is a charitable foundation established by Vancity. VCF manages the BC Rent Bank through partnerships with community-based agencies and local non-profit organizations that operate rent banks in their community. The program is funded by the Province of British Columbia. Renters anywhere in BC can access support services when facing short-term financial difficulties to avoid evictions.
A network of local in-community rent banks provide interest-free one-time loans, advice, and a friendly face to help low-to-moderate income renters get through difficult times resulting from unanticipated short-term financial challenges.
Community rent banks provide more than just financial assistance, they also provide housing stability and homelessness prevention resources. Critical support available includes: advocating on behalf of individuals to landlord and tenancy boards; helping tenants access governments subsidies, grants and other benefits they might be eligible for; and referrals to other agencies for access to food, clothing, counselling, and more.
The Vancity Community Foundation began management of the BC Rent Bank in 2019. By November 2021, it achieved province-wide reach, meaning renters in every corner of the province have access to rent bank services. British Columbia is the first province in Canada to have a rent bank that provides 100% geographical coverage.
Rent banks proved to be a critical support for low-income households at the height of COVID. During 2020, it helped a total of 4,351 people through 405 loans, 449 grants and 53 loan and grant combinations.
Lack of access to affordable housing is a major systemic challenge that Vancity can’t solve on our own. But we can still make a difference, especially through unique programs that address key gaps in the affordable housing landscape, like the BC Rent Bank program run by the Vancity Community Foundation.
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