For Immediate Release: October 10, 2019
Victoria, BC — RentSmart Education and Support Society, the non-profit organization behind the rapidly growing RentSmart education model for successful tenancies and housing stability – is launching a new limited-scale pilot project to help selected youth and families leaving transitional housing, families with young children and youth exiting government care overcome barriers to housing. The 18-month long project, called The RentSmart Guarantee Fund (RSGF), will increase access to housing by allowing participants to become established tenants while protecting landlords from perceived financial risk.
“The rental market in Victoria and Lower Mainland, with critically low vacancy rates and increased competition make finding stable housing incredibly challenging for tenants. Finding an affordable place to live is hard enough so for applicants who lack of references, credit history or rental experience, it can seem impossible” said Andrew Holeton, Director of Operations at RentSmart Education and Support Society. “Financial risk is a big concern for landlords in considering applicants so this project addresses this in two ways. RentSmart education provides tenants with the skills and knowledge to be great tenants. We back up the education with a financial guarantee for landlords of up to $5000 for damages or arrears.”
This pilot project was born as a result of research carried out by the RentSmart Education and Support Society, which indicated that risk mitigation funds or landlord guarantee funds are a useful tool for increasing access to housing for people who may be considered high risk tenants. Research of the models used in the United States and in Canada has also shown that these funds have a high degree of positive impact, particularly when combined with tenant education. Claims and payouts do occur but are significantly less than the risk perceived. The model serves tenants and landlords well and can dramatically increase housing options for tenants.
The RSGF, which is generously supported by Vancity Community Foundation and the Victoria Foundation, is a collaboration between RentSmart Education and Support Society, Aunt Leah’s Place, Y Young Moms, Y Pandora Youth Apartments, and Pacifica Housing. Geared towards youth and young families transitioning to housing, the pilot will include 15 participants in the Lower Mainland and 30 participants in the CRD. Eligible participants will be selected by the four partner agencies and will have access to RentSmart education and ongoing support. Coverage under the RSGF can be used at the start of a new tenancy and will continue for up to 12 months.
In order to ensure that participants covered by the Fund are set up for success, one of the requirements for applicants is to complete a RentSmart certificate course – education that offers life-skills and supports to succeed in tenancy. The course covers a range of important topics such as managing finances,communicating effectively, maintenance do’s and don’ts, rights and responsibilities, applying for housing, etc.
The project’s founders would like to prove that the fund will have an impact on freeing up space in transitional housing and that this model is robust enough to be successful in two of Canada’s toughest rental markets. Evaluation results from this pilot will be utilized in understanding how to efficiently finance the model as well as improving the policies and processes for a follow up demonstration project. This could potentially lay the groundwork for expansion provincially and nationally to cover as many tenants as possible with fewer claims.
For more information please contact:
Andrew Holeton, Director of Operations, RentSmart Education and Support Society, firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on the pilot project, please go to: