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Renters fear losing homes amid coronavirus pandemic as province promises more support

Last Updated Mar 20, 2020 at 12:31 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)
Summary

Some renters worry they won't be able to keep a roof over their heads amid COVID-19 related job losses

A Langley single mother says her landlord 'won't budge', and that he won't offer support unless he's told to by feds

The Langley mother is hopeful a possible rent bank could support people like her sooner rather than later

LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) – With thousands of people facing job losses and many already without income amid the COVID-19 outbreak, many renters are worried.

Some measures have been taken by companies and landlords to help certain renters out, and Canada’s big six banks have agreed to defer mortgage payments at this time, however, Jennifer Roebuck, from Langley, is among those who say her landlord apparently won’t be the one offering relief.

“I rely on literally every penny that I get from my work to pay the bills, to keep a roof over our heads,” Roebuck, a single mother, told NEWS 1130.

The dental administrator is facing possible job-loss, not unlike thousands of other Canadians across nearly every sector.

“Right now we’ve had to close our doors to the public as far as non-essential or emergency services,” she said. “We had to have the chat today about the probability of being laid off.”

For the moment, Roebuck said she’s been fortunate that her employer has allowed to her bring her daughter, who suffers a respiratory illness, to work. However, Roebuck’s main concern at this point — aside from lost income — is that she says her landlord won’t budge unless the government forces him to.

That’s even if his own mortgage payment is deferred.

“I’m very worried every day that passes by that if I get laid off I will not be able to make my rent payments,” Roebuck said.

“He’s like, ‘I’m not budging,’” Roebuck recalls from her chat with her landlord. “It doesn’t matter what my situation is, doesn’t matter what his situation is, he’s not budging at all unless the government basically tells him that.”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has said  he’s spoken with the B.C. NDP not only about a ban on evictions but financial support for renters in the form of a rent bank.

The Langley mother is hopeful that could support people like her sooner rather than later.

If Roebuck loses her job, she wants assurances she won’t end up on the street during the pandemic – or ever.

“If you’re relying on every penny that you make to make ends meet and to get all of your bills covered throughout the month it’s a really hard time to try to provide for your family and keep them safe,” she says. “And at the same time, worried and stressed out every day.”

Meanwhile, B.C.’s housing ministry has said there will be key decisions, including how to put the minds of renters at ease, coming down the pipe in the next few days.

“These are incredibly challenging times and we know people are worried about how they’re going to make ends meet on everything from groceries to rent payments,” the ministry said in an email to NEWS 1130. “All options are on the table to support housing stability for renters. We are working to make sure people are not evicted because of this crisis.”

The ministry has already told its non-profit partners no evictions from BC Housing-funded buildings should take place if someone can’t make rent during the coronavirus crisis.

Roebuck is calling on the provincial government to do what it can to ensure people like her aren’t left behind.

-With files from Ben Wilson and Monika Gul