Mayor Urges Council to Support Additional Grant to Vancouver Rent Bank

May 14, 2017 (Vancouver, BC) – Mayor Gregor Robertson is urging Council to support a report coming to Council Tuesday that recommends $49,600 additional funding to the Vancouver Rent Bank (VRB) to support an additional 142 short-term loans (impacting up to 240 individuals and families) for low-income Vancouver residents at risk of eviction or essential utility disconnection.

“We know that too many Vancouver residents are at risk of becoming homeless because of skyrocketing rents and near-zero rental vacancy rates in the midst of the housing crisis,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The Vancouver Rent Bank is an essential service that helps vulnerable residents regain their financial footing so their families aren’t forced onto the streets. Supporting the Rent Bank is an important action to prevent homelessness in the City’s Housing Reset, and I hope all of Council will support this report.”

34% of Vancouver renters earning less than $50,000 pay over 30% of their income on rent, putting them at high risk of becoming homelessness. Since the VRB was created in 2012:

  • Over 1,000 applications have been received;
  • 567 loans have been administered, impacting 980 residents (including 330 children) at a value of $540,459, with an average loan amount of $948; and
  • Among those, 57 residents were homeless and 283 had received eviction notices at the time of application.

This new recommended funding for 2017-18 is a one-time injection as NICCSS pursues and secures other long-term funding partners. The VRB was initially funded for a three-year term jointly by the City of Vancouver, NICCSS and community partners, Streetohome Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, and UBC. Operating costs for the VRB were funded for an additional two years by the City of Vancouver, NICCSS and community partners and the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Support for the VRB is part of the City’s Housing Reset, a new, 10-year strategy to re-orient the existing housing and homelessness strategy to better meet residents’ needs in response to the housing crisis. The City is encouraging all residents to give feedback on their housing needs, values and visions for the future of housing and affordability in the city at Vancouver.ca/housing until June 20th. 

Mayor Robertson and Council have taken a number of other steps to tackle Vancouver’s housing crisis, including:

  • Investing $80M in the 2017 Capital Plan for affordable housing - the most ever;
  • Approving a record number of new rental homes;
  • Bringing in Canada’s first Empty Homes Tax;
  • Regulating short-term rentals, like Airbnb;
  • Pursuing modular housing on city-owned sites;
  • Offering 20 sites of City-owned land worth $250 Million to senior governments to use for affordable housing;
  • Increasing family home requirements in new housing projects to 35%; and
  • Providing four City-owned sites to enable Vancouver’s first Community Land Trust.