More people struggling with paying rent will now have access to financial help.

Interest-free loans for those in a housing crisis are coming to more districts on the Island and Qathet region.

Fifteen new regional districts will now have access to rent bank services, the province announced Tuesday. Districts on the Island now being served include Comox, Cowichan Valley, Alberni-Clayoquot and Strathcona along with Qathet on the mainland.

This represents the last eight per cent of the renter population who didn’t have access to rent bank services, according to the province.

Rent banks provide interest-free loans for tenants in urgent situations so they do not lose their housing. BC Rent Bank is supported by a $10 million investment from the provincial government and partnerships with the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society.

People qualify for a loan from a rent bank if they are 19 years or older, moving into the province, or are already residents and if they have no more than two months outstanding rent, according to project lead Melissa Giles.

Giles said there also needs to be evidence the loans have the financial backing to be paid back including tenancy and bank statements.

The addition of the 15 regional districts means that all areas in B.C. have access to these loans.

“Rent banks are temporary solutions for some people in housing crisis. While they are not the ultimate solution to affordable housing generally, the services rent banks offer are vital to prevent homelessness and must be available to all British Columbians,” said David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for Housing in a press release.

“I’m very proud these essential services are now offered in every part of the province.”

Giles said BC Rent Bank is looking to provide more permanent housing solutions in the future through partnerships.
“We’re really grateful for the initial infusion of funds from the province of B.C. to support community-based rent banks in being established,” said Giles. “We also know we need long term funding partners.”

The province says rent banks provide housing stability and homelessness prevention. The interest-free loans can be applied for rent or essential utilities, or toward the deposit or first month’s rent.

To find a rent back location, visit https://bcrentbank.ca/locations/.

To apply for a rent bank loan, visit http://www.bcrentbank.ca/apply.