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B.C. rent banks increase housing stability, prevent homelessness: survey

61% of those who accessed rent bank support said the service prevented them from homelessness
(File photo)

A new survey has found that assistance provided by the BC Rent Bank has helped improve housing stability.

Rent banks are community-based housing stability and homelessness prevention resources that offer emergency interest-free financial assistance, advice and resources to maintain rental housing.

BC Rent Bank surveyed every household in B.C. that received financial assistance from a rent bank between April 1 and June 30, 2021, and asked about their housing situation six months after receiving assistance.

The survey found 94 per cent of respondents either maintained or improved their housing situation with 83 per cent of respondents in the same housing. Of those who were not, 67 per cent had moved to a better housing situation.

READ MORE: Financial help on its way for at-risk Greater Victoria renters

Support from rent banks was pivotal for 91 per cent of people in maintaining housing stability, 61 per cent of respondents said they would have faced homelessness without rent bank assistance.

“I can’t say enough about how profoundly this program helped me by not having to worry about all the volatility that I was going through with the pandemic,” said a rent bank survey respondent. “It gave me breathing room. I didn’t have to give up my car, so I ended up being able to get more jobs and have a means of getting there. Six months later, I am stable again. I was just a moment when I needed help, a moment that could very well have made me and my family homeless.”

Respondents also reported that increased housing stability allowed them to maintain custody of their children, engage in recovery from addiction and resume employment.

B.C. became the first in Canada to offer province-wide rent bank coverage in 2021. Tenants in every part of B.C. can access local rent bank services.

Funds can be applied toward rent, payment in arrears, utilities, a security deposit or a combination of these.

READ MORE: 23,000 people experienced homelessness in B.C. in 2019, new data shows

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Black Press Media Staff

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