New Westminster, BC – The City of New Westminster and Judy Darcy, MLA New Westminster announced at a press conference held at City Hall today that they are working together to establish a Rent Bank Program in New Westminster. The purpose of the program is to provide loans to low-income renters facing eviction or the termination of their utilities.
“We at the City are excited to work with Judy Darcy and our community partners to meet this important need in the community,” said Mayor Jonathan X. Coté. “Establishing the rent bank will assist eligible low-income renters to maintain their housing and potentially reduce the incidence of homelessness.”
Over the last year, MLA Judy Darcy was able to secure an endowment of approximately $35,000 as a result of contributions from every credit union with a branch in the city, which provided New Westminster with the opportunity to establish the program.
“This story began with people who were at risk of homelessness coming to my Constituency Office, and us realizing there was nowhere they could turn to get temporary financial help to see them through a crisis,” said MLA Judy Darcy. “It has been incredibly heartwarming to see our community come together to create a Rent Bank so that people aren’t forced to turn to payday lenders -- or end up homeless.”
“The establishment of the New Westminster Rent Bank Program is an important initiative for credit unions to collaborate and support together,” said Doug Eveneshen, President and CEO of Community Savings Union. “This collaboration speaks to the strength of the cooperative values of all credit unions for which we are grateful.”
The New Westminster Homelessness Coalition Society has also contributed $4,000 annually over a three-year period to replenish the endowment.
In October 2016, City Council approved $60,000 over a three-year period to cover administrative costs for the Rent Bank Program, with these funds coming from the Housing Reserve Fund. Based on a Request for Proposals, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society was selected to host and administer the program.
“The Lower Mainland Purpose Society is very excited to be selected as the operating agency,” said Dawn Embree, Executive Director of the Lower Mainland Purpose Society. “We aim to work closely with the community partners to develop a successful program in New Westminster.”
The next steps will be for the City to work with Purpose Society in setting up the program and establishing a Rent Bank Loan Evaluation Committee. It is anticipated that the first loans could be issued as early as mid-May 2017.