Along the empty streets in downtown Victoria are empty stores. Many of the employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now struggling to pay their rent. That rent is due April 1st.
On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan announced measures to help the hundreds of thousands needing help.
“This morning cabinet met and approved a package, and I will outline some of those elements today. But it’s designed to give some immediate protection to renters and to landlords,” Horgan said.
The provincial government will supplement rent, paid directly to landlords, for up to $500 for three months. There’s also moratorium on all new evictions and a rent freeze effective immediately. The impact will be immediate, according to the executive director of Together Against Poverty, Doug King.
“This is exactly what we were asking for. This is the right course of action. We needed a moratorium on evictions. And we received that today. And you really have to give credit to the provincial government for taking this action,” King said.
According to statistics from the Canadian Rental Housing Agency, of the 45,665 households in Victoria, 65 per cent rent. That’s a higher percentage than much of the province. The average household in Victoria pays $1,053 in monthly rent and utilities.
The rent freeze comes into effect today. Disputes can still be processed through the Residential Tenancy Branch.
To support people during the COVID-19 emergency, we’re halting evictions, freezing rent, and offering a new rental supplement that will provide renters up to $500 a month and ensure landlords continue to receive some rental income.
— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) March 25, 2020