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Comox Valley Rent Bank expands to Strathcona, Mt. Waddington and qathet regional districts

Organization to be renamed North Island Rent Bank
For Rent. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror

Every community on Vancouver Island north of Comox will have access to a local rent bank after April 1.

The Comox Valley Rent Bank will be expanding their coverage area starting next month, giving renters access to local tools to help them get through immediate financial crises while keeping a roof over their heads. As of April 1, the rent bank will apply to the Comox Valley Regional District, the Strathcona Regional District, the Regional District of Mount Waddington and qathet Regional District.

“It is geared towards people who are dealing or experiencing a short-term financial crisis that’s impacting their ability to either pay rent or essentially utilities,” said Dawn Schroeder from the Comox Valley Rent Bank. “Now the rent could be for first month’s rent, it could be up to two months of rental arrears, it could be next month’s rent. It could also be damage deposit, pet deposit or essential utilities.”

The rent bank, which will be re-named the North Island Rent Bank on April 1, is a housing stability and homelessness prevention program. It offers interest-free loans to people who qualify, which can be repaid over a 12-36 month period.

“The loan itself is intended to stabilize the renters housing beyond the immediate crisis that they’re that they’re dealing with,” she said.

While every renter in B.C. is covered under the provincial rent bank, Schroeder said that the benefit of a local program goes much further than the provincial program.

“They know the community. They know what other services are there in the community,” she said. “I have developed really great strong working relationships with other societies, and we have been able to work together to help stabilize the financial crisis that that rent bank applicants are in. So we’ve had really great success taking that approach … we really work together to make sure that this person or family is really being taken care of.”

Funding comes from the larger BC Rent Bank fund, and Schroeder said that there is potential for local donors to help out as well.

Schroeder said that due to the success of the program in the Comox Valley and the lack of similar local programs north of the Oyster River, she thought it would be equally successful in other parts of the Island.

“We thought it makes sense for us to take this on. It’s really really important to have somebody who is local to be able to work with the renters in these areas,” she said.

Renters who need to apply can do so on the BC Rent Bank website. The system will automatically connect local renters to the North Island Rent Bank.

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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