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West Coast rental woes spark collaboration

This past May, Sunshine Coast Credit Union (16,800 members, $650 million in assets) on coastal British Columbia announced a partnership to launch a new service to ensure that people in dire but temporary financial circumstances can keep a roof over the heads.

The credit union, along with The Co-operators and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, will offer loans and support through advocacy and referral services to individuals in need. The service will provide relief to tenants who are facing eviction or a cessation of utilities, allowing them to apply for a short-term, interest-free loan. Certain qualications will have to be met, including minimum income verification. Loans will be given alongside referral support and financial literacy tailored to the needs of the individual in crisis.

The Canadian Rental Housing Index identified the Sunshine Coast as one of BC’s top 10 communities in “critical condition” in terms of supply and affordability of rental housing.

Shelley McDade, CEO of Sunshine Coast Credit Union, said in a media release that “we are pleased to be able to contribute our expertise and resources alongside our community partners.”

The crisis has peaked in Metro Vancouver, with the Royal Bank of Canada reporting this past April that housing costs have reached “the worst affordability levels recorded anywhere in Canada.” With the median total income for households in Metro Vancouver at $72,662, according to 2015 census data, owning a home requires 85 percent of a typical household’s income, RBC stated. ◊