BANFF – The Banff Housing Corporation is offering rent deferrals or reductions to residents of the Ti’nu housing apartments who have lost jobs or work hours during the global COVID-19 public health crisis.
The Town of Banff is also pleading with other landlords in town to consider financial relief for their tenants, given that some estimates suggest anywhere from 70 to 80 per cent of Banff’s workforce has been laid off during the pandemic.
Alison Gerrits, who is Banff’s deputy director of emergency management under the state of local emergency and emergency coordination centre, said the municipality is asking landlords to show flexibility, compassion and support to their tenants during this challenging time.
“Please talk to you renters, understand their financial positions and do what you can to keep renters safely housed,” she said, adding the municipality send a big thank you to the landlords already doing this.
“This particular request is directed to landlords to try to prevent an unnecessary housing crisis from occurring. What we don’t want to see is people losing their housing because they can’t make rent during this emergency.”
Usually a thriving tourist community, Banff resembles more of a ghost town these days, with most businesses shutting their doors to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and Parks Canada shutting down the national parks to visitors this week.
While exact numbers are unknown, it’s believed as many as 4,000 people have lost their jobs and countless others have seen reduced hours.
Gerrits said she believes the Banff Housing Corporation has developed a strong model for rent deferral or reductions for Ti’nu residents; one that could also be used by other landlords to help show financial relief.
In Ti’nu’s case, if at least one person listed on the lease has been laid off, or had work hours reduced due to the pandemic, rent will be deferred until April 15 to allow time for provincial and federal relief programs to kick in.
For April, May and June, she said rent will be reduced to 30 per cent of gross household income for households whose employment status is still affected by the crisis, a household with a $1,500 monthly income would pay $450 rent for example.
“This will allow tenants to use the remainder of funds for food and other expenses,” said Gerrits.
Property owners have already been given relief from the large banks in the form of options for six-month mortgage deferrals.
The Town of Banff is offering property owners who are on a monthly tax installment payment plan the option to suspend monthly contributions until the annual tax deadline on June 30. In addition, those on the plan can also request a refund for the first three months of payments they had made in January, February and March.
On top of that, the Town won’t charge any interest, typically calculated at 1.5 per cent per month, for the next three months if people aren’t in a position to pay their first quarter utility bills for sewer, water and solid waste.
“All these measures are intended to address immediate cash flow issues which homeowners may have, so with that, we’re asking landlords to provide some flexibility and support to their tenants,” said Gerrits.
“We want people who want to stay in Banff ... to stay in Banff during this time of unprecedented level of uncertainty.”
Ti’nu residents must contact the BHC office by email or phone to arrange the deferral – firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-762-1115.
As of Thursday (March 27), there were 486 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alberta. Two people in this province have died.
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