A new IT system can mean a lot. A company can work more efficiently and help more people faster. It can mean even more when it is being shared with others and scaled to have a greater impact.
The Vancouver Rent Bank (VRB), managed by the Network of Inner City Community Services Society, is doing just that. An anonymous donor made a generous donation to the VRB, allowing them to develop a comprehensive IT system they plan on sharing with rent banks around the province.
“It was something we had been talking about for a while, and the opportunity fell into our laps,” says Caitlin Quinn, Manager of Lending Programs at the VRB.
The VRB provides interest-free loans for people in danger of eviction or essential utility cut-off, as well as providing financial workshops, resources and connections to housing support services including landlord mediation. The new IT system will allow the VRB to focus more on their advocacy initiatives, saving time currently spent manually tracking loans and transactions, and will also contribute to increasing their repayment rate by sending automated reminders and creating a constant communication stream between the VRB and the client.
“The new IT system will automate the backend banking and some of the communication, allowing for us to spend a lot more time on advocacy. We’ll be able to help people above and beyond, and connect them with the services they need,” Caitlin says.
With the time saved, the VRB will have an increased capacity and be able to further extend their programs to help more individuals and families who run into extraordinary financial challenges.
As the largest rent bank in BC, the VRB has always had a mandate to not only help the public, but also other rent banks – supporting them to get set up and running including sharing best practices, policies, and print/online resources. The new IT system will facilitate this process.
“They’re going to come across the same issues that we have, and we are all stronger as a collective. While we often work as islands, there will be an increased strength, faster learning curve and greater outcomes in doing it together.”
The new IT system will be up and running in January, 2019. To learn more about the Vancouver Rent Bank, visit: http://www.niccss.ca/VRB