Vancouver Rent Bank faces funding shortfall as demand increases
Only 50% get approved, but organizer says renters are relying on the bank’s services now more than ever
The Vancouver Rent Bank has been helping low-income people in the city make rent for five years — but now, organizers say they're the ones in need of help.
The provider of small, interest-free loans says it is facing a funding gap that will impact its ability to help people, who would otherwise be facing homelessness, stay in their rental homes.
"We're short about $30,000 and that typically goes to keeping lights on at the organization, making sure there's proper management and oversight of the program and a lot of advocacy and coordination on some of the bigger, systemic issues that are impacting the housing crisis," said Amanda Pollicino with the non-profit Network of Inner City Community Services Societies, which runs the bank.
"We have less ability to leverage other options for [borrowers]. … We're not necessarily able to process as many when we get those high peaks, like around Christmas time.
"The loans are still going out the door, but I think they could be going out faster, and we would be able to serve clients more efficiently."
Tenants who are struggling to make rent for a month can apply for a loan from the rent bank. They then have two years to pay the loan back, which averages about $950.
Pollicino says renters are relying on the bank's services now more than ever.
"We do an average of 120 to 130 loans a year. About 50 per cent of the people who apply get approved," she said.
Pollicino says in order to close the funding gap, they're working on fundraising with Landlord B.C. and looking for private donations.