The new measures announced Wednesday also include provisions for landlords to restrict tenant and guest access to common areas to protect against COVID-19 transmission.
"The stress is off the charts right now".
The supplemental funds will be available through B.C. Housing for the next four months and paid directly to landlords when a tenant can not pay rent.
The rent subsidy, up to $500 a month, will be disbursed by BC Housing directly to landlords and builds on federal and provincial financial supports already announced for those facing financial hardship. "It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency".
Rental property-owner association LandlordBC had asked the province not to impose a moratorium on evictions in the province, saying the move could have "huge unintended consequences and put the entire rental housing ecosystem at risk".
As of the latest numbers released March 25, there are a total of 659 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. The cases span all B.C. health regions: Vancouver Coastal (339), Fraser Health (218), Island Health (47), Interior Health (46) and Northern Health (9).
Canadians' job prospects look increasingly bleak as COVID-19 leads to unprecedented layoffs, with almost one million people filing for jobless benefits over the past week. "This fund is here to help those people that are in genuine distress", said BC Premier John Horgan. "That will depend on the depth of the pandemic, and the time it will take for us to recover and come out the other side". There was no information provided about what happens with the thousands of students who typically finish postsecondary terms at the end of April and then count on paying their rent from May to September by getting summer jobs.
The province is planning for the worst, the premier said, with the rental supplement covering all of the roughly 500,000 renters in B.C. and will go towards renters experiencing a loss of income. "In addition, students are also much more likely to work in the service and hospitality industries, where there are major layoffs across the board", reads the letter. "The fewer people who access the program, the more opportunity we have to expand it going forward".
"This is an fantastic thing", said Teresa Douglas, who was facing a a $50-a-month increase May 1 in the rent for the two-bedroom townhouse she and her husband rent through student housing at the University of British Columbia.
"We want to make sure that those students are supported and that their concerns are heard".