Low to moderate-income earners who have trouble paying their rent will now have additional resources in the Nanaimo Region.

BC Rent Bank is a homelessness prevention tool that is meant to help provide stable housing for renters in the lower-income brackets.

Melissa Giles is the Project Lead at BC Rent Banks and said these resources help people before they fall into homelessness.

“BC Housing has supports for individuals who are facing a crisis and then there are great organizations like John Howard (Society), that we’re partnering within the Nanaimo Region, that have access to supports as well,  to keep people housed. Whether that’s a one-time crisis grant or ongoing monthly supplements,” said Giles. “The goal of rent banks is not only to assist people with a loan because it is a loan and not everyone will qualify.“

BC Rent Banks, in partnership with the John Howard Society, helps renters bridge the gap to pay their rent, utilities or help with the security deposit or their first month of rent.

Giles said COVID-19 has changed the landscape for renters, but there are resources in place to help them.

“Rent banks are really there to catch people before they fall through the cracks by providing a solution for them, so, for the city and for the region, it gives renters another option when they’re facing a crisis,” said Giles.

In a news release, BC Rent Banks said it provides access to financial advice, mediations with landlords, and access to other community supports and services.

“The opening of a rent bank in the Nanaimo Region in January 2021 is truly significant and needed — and it reflects a comprehensive and coordinated community effort with our partner, the City of Nanaimo, and it is fully supported by other community stakeholders involved in housing programs,” said John McCormick, Co-Executive Director, John Howard Society (Nanaimo Region). “The pandemic has exacerbated the already unprecedented levels of precariously housed community members. That, combined with rental stock in historic low supply, means that the creation of the Nanaimo Rent Bank is enthusiastically supported as a valuable option to help low- to moderate-income renters to remain housed.”

The Nanaimo Region also includes Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and Lantzville.