News / Vancouver

Vancouver rent bank prevents 137 evictions in one year

When Pat Tucker, 62, was hospitalized in March due to a long-term illness that prevented her from working, she was short on rent for her $960 West End one-bedroom apartment.

Despite support from her best friend and son, the former social worker was afraid she would go home to an eviction notice.

But with the help of the Vancouver Rent Bank, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on Tuesday, Tucker was able to stay in her apartment where she lives with her chow chow named Jsa Jsa.

“They saved me from being on the street,” she told reporters at a news conference to honour the program that provides small, interest-free loans to cover rent in temporary financial crises.

Since it launched on Oct. 10, 2012, the Vancouver Rent Bank has approved 137 such loans that prevented 228 people (including 39 children) from being evicted. While people like Tucker still struggle for cash, she said the loan provided stability that helped her get her bills under control.

One hundred per cent of the borrowers are still housed and the loan repayment rate is 70.2 per cent, managing director Amanda Pollicino said.

To get the loans, people must provide three months of bank statements, go over their budget and pass an interview. They also must prove their crisis is temporary, she said.

Those who have been denied (113 applications) are typically bad at managing money, are in an ongoing crisis that one month’s rent won’t fix, or live in a place they can’t afford, she said.

The initiative is a partnership between Streetohome Foundation, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, UBC, the Vancity Community Foundation and the Network of Inner City Community Services Society.

It started with a $366,000 donation from Frank Giustra and the Radcliffe Foundation, with the city and Vancouver Foundation covering the operating costs.

Preventing homelessness with the program is not only less expensive than having people on the street, but keeping families in place helps with stability and continuity for work and school, Mayor Gregor Robertson said at the news conference.

During homelessness action week, which runs until Oct. 19, the Vancouver Rent Bank will hold five information sessions at community centres.

By the numbers

People who didn’t become homeless – 228

Loans issued to date – 137

Average loan value – $906

Total value of loans to date – $124,171

Applications received – 250

Repayment rate – 70.2 %

Typical age of rent bank user – 55 to 64

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