New Westminster – On Monday, March 23, 2020, New Westminster City Council approved allocation of the total Affordable Housing Reserve Fund of $1.7M to respond to the emergent housing-related needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first action will be to allocate $100,000 from the fund as an endowment to expand the administrative and loan capacity of the New Westminster Rent Bank Program. The City of New Westminster has received an increasing number of inquiries regarding protection against eviction due to loss of employment earnings and inability to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City will work with the Lower Mainland Purpose Society to expand the New Westminster Rent Bank Program to protect tenants from potential eviction.
“This is the time to expand our Rent Bank Program,” said Mayor Jonathan X. Coté. “There are more people in our city struggling to pay rent and we hope we can help alleviate some of that burden as we navigate our way through this challenging time.”
The New Westminster Rent Bank Program was established in June 2017 to assist in short-term crisis situations (such as a person changing jobs or an unexpected medical expense). Its mandate is to provide low-cost loans to residents who are at risk of eviction or disconnection of essential utilities due to a temporary or unexpected financial crisis.
For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the program will be enhanced for renters at risk of eviction due to loss of income and inability to pay rent.
Cited enhancements to the program include:
- Interim eligibility criteria to allow renters at risk of evictions due to loss of income and inability to pay rent to access loans
- Enhanced loan capacity (a higher number of loans) to support more residents to access the program
- Interim loan recovery terms to allow for flexibility for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All levels of government are focused on mitigating the health and economic risks of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian households, including renter households. On March 25, 2020, the Province introduced a number of measures including a temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions.
For more information on the New Westminster Rent Bank Program and to apply for a loan, please visit: https://purposesociety.org/events/categories/family-programs/rent-bank/
For information on provincial supports for renters and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit: https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2017-2021/2020MAH0048-000561.htm
John Stark, Supervisor of Community Planning