Harvest Project Gives A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out To Community Members In Need Of An Interest-Free Rent Loan
Mayumi Izumi // Contributor
Mikaela Johnson // Illustrator
Mayor Linda Buchanan, the City of North Vancouver council and planners recently approved a grant of $75,000 for the North Shore Rent Bank Program. The funds will bring more grants to applicants to help the North Vancouver charity to assist their clients with finances for housing and secure food supply.
An interest-free rent loan is a much needed resource in the current climate as the province rolls out Phase 3 of BC’s restart plan, many still require financial assistance. In late 2019, a pilot project named the North Shore Rent Bank program was started by Harvest Project, a well known and respected North Vancouver registered charity.
“There are two really strong factors at play here, one—there is a distinct need for what the rent bank provides for folks who find themselves on the margins especially at this time so it meets a need that’s here now and number two—it gets to the City’s pledge…to make [North Vancouver] the healthiest city [in the world] and that really aligns with Harvest Project’s desire and mission to see the North Shore…be the healthiest community it can be,” explains Kevin Lee, Harvest Project Development Officer.
The grant from the city can help approximately 40 to 50 single residents and families. Although North Vancouver is one of the most affluent cities in the country, homelessness is an ongoing issue. According to a North Vancouver Task Force, there were approximately 736 homeless people in 2017, and in just two short years, that number has more than doubled—last year 2,236 people were identified as homeless.
The term “homeless” includes people living on the streets, parks, in their cars or couch surfing at friends and families’ homes. With the $75,000 grant, Harvest Project can help community members in need of financial assistance pay for their rent and security deposit.
Some of the criteria for being approved for the North Shore Rent Bank program are that the applicant is 19 years or older, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, has income to cover their other expenses, and can provide three months of bank statements, a rental agreement, and utility bills.
Harvest Project was founded in 1993 by David Foster. “David grew up in West Vancouver and became a successful business person at a fairly young age, and at some point along that path, he fell on hard times personally and ended up losing his place…[finding] himself homeless,” recounts Lee.
He did find help through several community groups and churches but through this traumatic experience, he discovered that the resources available on the North Shore were not up to par. This prompted Foster to create change. He strongly believes in self-sufficiency, and continues to be the backbone for Harvest Project’s ethos of giving a hand up.
In the mid-nineties, the City of North Vancouver lent Harvest Project a space on Lonsdale and Esplanade free of charge so that they could have a clothing depot. The charity organization moved to Bewicke Ave around 2000, and in 2011 they opened Clothes For Change at their current location in North Vancouver.
Despite closing their doors in late March, they have not missed a day in helping their neighbours, community and clients. They very quickly transitioned to online and phone support and have donated $800,000 via their virtual program and grocery gift cards.
You can donate to Harvest Project through their website or through their grocery store partners.