October 10, 2012, Vancouver – Today Streetohome Foundation announced a $366,000 contribution from Radcliffe Foundation to cover the loan portion of Vancouver’s first rent bank, a project that will provide a cost-effective solution to preventing homelessness caused by short-term financial reasons such as the inability to pay the next month’s rent or utility cut-off due to overdue bills. Streetohome’s funding partners, who will pay the operating costs of the Rent Bank, include the Vancouver Foundation and the City of Vancouver. The funds will be managed and administered by Network of Inner City Community Services Society (NICCSS). Other partners include UBC Department of Economics, BC Hydro Power Smart, and Vancity.
“The Radcliffe Foundation is proud to be part of this project, which provides so much more than a short term loan,” said Frank Giustra, President of the Radcliffe Foundation and Streetohome Capital Campaign Chair. “It provides individuals and families who are down on their luck with some hope, which I know will carry on into their children’s lives, into their communities and throughout the city.”
Streetohome supports public policies and programs that will, over the longer term, prevent homelessness. The Rent Bank is an innovative and caring project that was created to help stop the flow of individuals and families into homelessness and provide housing stability. Streetohome decided to support the Rent Bank in 2011 as part of its goal to prevent people who are most vulnerable from becoming homeless in the first place.
“Preventing individuals and families from becoming homeless is essential to solving homelessness in the long term,” said Rob Turnbull, President and CEO of Streetohome Foundation. “This exciting and innovative project will not only provide short-term financial solutions, but also long-term benefits, such as financial literacy training and connections to support services in Vancouver.”
Individuals who are facing a short-term financial crisis can apply for a one-time loan to help them pay their rent or, in some cases, first/last months’ rent, damage deposit, or utility arrears. Loans are generally repaid within a 24 month period, and the experience of other rent banks in British Columbia is that an average of 70 percent of loans are repaid. Rent bank administrators work with social service agencies, case workers, and loan applicants to structure a repayment program and provide financial literacy training to ensure that most recipients are successful in their repayment. Loans are not given directly to the applicant but to a collector such as a landlord for rent arrears or a security deposit or utility company for utility arrears. Rent banks are an innovative tool proven to be successfully implemented in other major centres such as Surrey, Prince George and the Fraser Valley.
“It really comes down to the helping out individuals and families through difficult times,” said Kate Hodgson, the Executive Director of the Network of Inner City Community Services Society, the organization that administers the loan. “We are excited to support this innovative and important program and administer these emergency interest-free loans to low-income Vancouver residents who are facing eviction due to short-term financial crisis.”
“We know that many Vancouver residents are at risk of becoming homeless due to high rents and very low vacancy rates,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “That’s why this new Vancouver Rent Bank is a top priority in the City’s Affordable Housing and Homelessness strategy – it will reduce homelessness by helping to prevent an estimated 1,600 evictions. These small timely loans will help those residents regain their financial footing so they can continue to contribute to our community and local economy.”
Streetohome Foundation works with non-profit, business, community, and government partners to find new approaches to prevent and alleviate homelessness in Vancouver. It is dedicated to ensuring that residents of Vancouver have access to safe, decent, affordable housing and the support they need to make a difference in their lives.
About Radcliffe Foundation:
Established in 1997 by financier and philanthropist Frank Giustra, the Vancouver-based Radcliffe Foundation supports a wide variety of international and local charities. Focusing on issues ranging from disaster relief, economic development and homelessness to offering children around the world hope for a better future, the Radcliffe Foundation has been contributing to improving livelihoods worldwide for over a decade. The Radcliffe Foundation has also been working closely with the Streetohome; the first broad community-based initiative which brings together stakeholders from business, non-profits, governments and citizens, in order to effectively address homelessness in Vancouver. For many years, the Radcliffe Foundation has also been a strong supporter of the William J. Clinton Foundation (WJCF). The Radcliffe Foundation funds various programs within President Clinton’s foundation, such as the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI).
About Streetohome Foundation:
Streetohome is dedicated to ensuring that residents of our city have access to safe, decent, affordable housing and the support they need to make a difference in their lives. Streetohome is the first organization in Vancouver to take a systematic approach to addressing both homelessness and its root causes. Learn more at www.streetohome.org.
About Network of Inner City Community Services Society (NICCSS):
NICCSS is a consortium of community-based organizations, resident groups and consumer groups who work together in the coordination and delivery of services to children and families and individuals. These programs are all focused Vancouver’s Inner City population, addressing gaps in existing social services for residents in these neighbourhoods. The range of services that we provide includes early childhood development, youth and family support, seniors’ support and social enterprise projects. Our programs frequently involve a number of community organizations working collaboratively together to address issues affecting our community on many levels.
For more information contact:
T: 604.629.2711 ext. 103