COVID-19 causing concerns for island renters
Despite promises of a $5 billion financial relief plan from the B.C. government, some island renters are concerned over making this month's rent in time due to COVID-19: (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- With April 1 fast approaching, British Columbians are growing concerned about being able to make their rent payments.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to shut down, and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Many renters now have limited or no income, making eviction a very real concern.
On Monday, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced a $5-billion aid package to help renters and businesses in the province through the pandemic.
Horgan assured renters that they would not lose their homes due to coronavirus.
"No one will lose their apartment because of COVID-19," he said Monday.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Carol James reiterated that a portion of the relief fund would go towards helping people who are unable to make their rent payments.
Jessie Hutchinson is one local renter who is concerned about making next month’s rent. She is a nursing student who is unable to work at her serving job because of the virus.
"If I make just enough for rent each month – and now I'm not making anything – I'm really not sure what I am going to do."
She says she is thankful for the government's support but is worried that it will not come in time.
James says she's encouraged to hear of landlords who are going out of their way to help tenants. Here in Victoria, Century 21 has sent a letter to all its tenants, asking them to reach out to their property manager if they are facing financial difficulty.
Hutchinson and her two roommates say they didn’t have the same positive reaction when they reached out to their landlord for help.
"She said we should use our savings, because that is what savings are for,” said Hutchinson.
“She said that not paying, and not making an effort to pay, is not an option."
Hutchinson says she is hoping the government will take further steps to help renters, and consider a province-wide rent freeze.