The need for a rent bank in Williams Lake was identified in the Thrive Poverty Reduction Strategy, in which more than 50 community members met in February 2020 and narrowed down priorities they thought would have the most impact. City of Williams Lake photo

Rent Bank launched in Williams Lake and area

New pilot program to help renters

The first-ever rent bank is now available in Williams Lake to help individuals experiencing short-term financial difficulties keep their homes through interest-free, repayable loans.

“We just launched in the last couple of weeks,” said Social Planning Council executive director Anne Burrill.

“We’ve been working on it for quite a long time because we recognized the challenges around people maintaining their housing and of rent increases.”

The Williams Lake Rent Bank is a six-month pilot provided through the Social Planning Council of Williams Lake that has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association-Cariboo Chilcotin Branch and BC Rent Bank, a project funded by the province.

Burrill said new housing can be challenging to find for anyone who loses their home.

Williams Lake City Coun. Sheila Boehm said at a regular Oct. 19 council meeting that she would be having an appointment the next day with NCLGA and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to discuss the lack of housing in Williams Lake that is directly tied to the shortage of healthcare workers.

“And any new housing that people move into, the rent tends to go up, which puts people into more financial difficulty,” Burrill added.

“So the rent bank is really a way to try and help people maintain their housing when they have a short-term crisis that makes that difficult for them. I think it’s definitely one of the pieces of the puzzle in terms of preventing homelessness.”

The need for a rent bank in Williams Lake was identified in the Thrive Poverty Reduction Strategy, in which more than 50 community members met in February 2020 and narrowed down priorities they thought would have the most impact.

“I’m very, very excited that we’re going to be able to provide this program,” Burrill said, noting she is hopeful it will continue after its six-month pilot.

“As we see rent going up and shortages of rental housing, it’s imperative that we’re able to keep people in their housing. People just don’t have the option to leave their housing to find something else, so I think this is quite a critical program.”

More than $25,000 in funding was provided by the BC Rent Bank with additional financial support from Community Futures Cariboo Chilcotin and the Williams Lake and District Credit.

Pre-assessment applications for the Williams Lake Rent Bank are available at https://apply.bcrentbank.ca/apply/williams-lake-rent-bank

For more information email wl.rentbank@cmha.bc.ca


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