RENT BANK NOT HAPPENING THIS YEAR, N.B. GOVERNMENT SAYS
A lifeline for struggling renters won’t be available until next year.
The New Brunswick government announced the rent bank program in June with few details and no timeline, except a promise to spend $3 million over the next two years to help up to 750 households annually.
In an email to CBC News, the Department of Social Development confirmed the province is still searching for an organization to administer the program.
It plans to launch a rent bank, which will provide renters with short-term, interest-free loans to help pay for a security deposit or arrears, in January 2024 — but even that timeline is not set in stone.
“We have been told during the consultation and research process that, based on other province’s experiences, our timeline is very ambitious to get a program like this up and running,” a spokesperson wrote.
Meanwhile, rumours of a provincial election this fall mean the Tories’ place in power come January is not guaranteed.
Housing is one of the biggest costs driving inflation this year, according to a recent report from Statistics Canada, and New Brunswick tenants are facing Canada’s fastest-rising rents.
New Brunswick announced the rent bank as part of its new, 10-year affordable housing strategy. A rent cap, which the province removed in January, was not part of that strategy.
“We are relying on the experiences, lessons learned and best practices from rent banks in other parts of Canada to inform the development of the rent bank program, including eligibility criteria and application procedures,” the spokesperson wrote.
Cheryl Krostewitz, who runs a rent bank program in Manitoba, said those community consultations are important, but that organizers shouldn’t “dream too big.”
“Get it in place, and you can work on it as it goes along,” she told Information Morning Fredericton in August.
Krostewitz is a team leader with the Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association. That province’s rent bank is in its third year of delivery, launched originally as a COVID-19 emergency response.
The program provides renters in need with $2,500 or two months’ of rent, whichever is lower. Krostewitz said the association is working with the province to determine whether that amount should be higher, given that many people often need more.
She acknowledged that launching a rent relief program is an immense undertaking, adding the New Brunswick government has actually reached out to her for details about how Manitoba’s program works.
“I really think there is momentum behind this and it’s moving in the right direction,” she said.
Story by: CBC News