The Connective Support Society Nanaimo, formerly known as the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society, is hoping to receive assistance for its rent bank program from the City of Parksville.
Spokesman John Horn made a presentation to Parksville city council, at the Nov. 21 regular meeting, information and a funding request for the rent bank, whose goal is to prevent people from becoming homeless due to unforeseen life events.
The society has requested a $10,000 annual commitment from the city. Horn said they will make similar requests to jurisdictions across the Island and made a presentation to the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) board a few weeks ago.
The rent bank will loan up to $1,500 to an individual and $1,800 to a family for rental arrears, and a damage deposit/utilities to a maximum of $500. The loans are interest-free and repayable over 24 months.
The program covers the RDN and there are plans to expand to the Strathcona and Alberni–Clayoquot regional districts. Rent Bank BC has asked Connective Nanaimo to provide a local service for Vancouver Island, according to Horn’s presentation.
Coun. Adam Fras said there may be competition for rent bank funding in Parksville.
“We actually do have a rent-subsidy program right now, using the OAP (online accommodation platform) through the SOS (Society of Organized Services),” he said. “It started off this last year.”
Fras added the program’s biggest hindrance is a limited number of people in the community are aware of it.
“It is geared more to the workers in our community in the tourism industry, trying to target the fact that we lose workers and that’s the crunch that we have,” he continued.
Horn said they are seeing people on fixed incomes be the most affected by rising rents, since an employee can negotiate for a higher income, while a person living on a pension or income assistance cannot.
“Those are the ones that get crushed by the rent,” he said.
Mayor Doug O’Brien said the city is willing to look into the possibility of funding the rent bank.
Horn added they plan to have local partners in the communities they serve to assist people who are not computer literate or face other barriers to making an application.
The organization also has planned a communication campaign to let residents know the resource is available when they need it.
The rent bank is project of VanCity Community Foundation and is funded by the Province of BC and local partners.