B.C. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson (B.C. government)

B.C. promises up to $500 monthly in rent support amid COVID-19

Freeze on rent increases, most evictions also taking effect

The B.C. government is offering up to $500 in rent supplement payments for each of the next four months to help people stay in their homes as their income is affected by COVID-19.

Premier John Horgan announced the rent supplement plan March 25, along with a freeze on rent increases and most evictions. Horgan warned that the new fund is reserved for people who have lost their jobs, had hours cut or are confined at home due to the virus threat.

“If you can pay your rent, you should pay your rent,” Horgan said.

Like the $1,000 relief for laid-off people B.C. announced earlier in the coronavirus emergency, Horgan said eligibility will depend on being eligible for the federal government’s Employment Insurance expansion. Layoff notices or other documentation will be required.

The application process through B.C. Housing is still “a work in progress,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said.

RELATED: B.C. budget heads into unknown deficits for COVID-19

RELATED: 28% of B.C. COVID-19 cases have recovered, Henry says

Horgan said he is aware that April rent is due soon and $500 is only part of the solution for many renters. He urged people to work with landlords, such as temporarily using damage deposits.

“We can’t guarantee it will be in their pockets by April 1,” Horgan said. “We are going to get the resources into people’s hands as quickly as possible.”

The program will be funded out of the $5 billion aid package the B.C. legislature approved in an emergency session March 22.

Evictions under the residential tenancy regulations will not go ahead unless there are issues of safety involved, said Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, the B.C. government’s advisor on rental housing.

B.C. Housing administers existing rent supplements and will send the new payments directly to landlords. Robinson said that is the fastest way to deliver the support and also helps landlords make their mortgage payments during a critical time.

“We’re helping renters pay rent and giving them the peace of mind that they have a stable home in these unprecedented times, and ensuring that landlords can count on some rental income right now to keep them afloat too,” Robinson said.

Horgan called on financial institutions to provide some flexibility on mortgages to allow time for the aid to reach people from the federal and provincial governments, and the COVID-19 pandemic to work its way through and allow normal life again.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Kelowna Rockets?

This quiz challenges the knowledge of those who claim to be the biggest Rockets fans

12-year-old Kelowna resident celebrates birthday with help of community

The community greeted Kate Pauling with ballons, banners and gifts along her paper route on Friday

COVID-19: More infected passengers on planes flying to and from Okanagan and Kamloops airports

The BC Centre of Disease Control has identified numerous flights with COVID-19 cases

Land once belonged to Grand Chief Nicola

Summerland was once known as Nicola Prairie

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

Okanagan nordic centre loses out on 2021 nationals

Sovereign Lake near Vernon was to host 2020 Canadian championships, canceled due to COVID-19

COVID-19: North Okanagan spring leagues wiped out

Ladies softball, indoor and beach volleyball leagues shut down over pandemic

Most Read