LOW-INCOME families and seniors in British Columbia, who are paying rent in the private market, will receive additional help from the Province, with improvements coming into effect for two rental-assistance programs, the government announced on Thursday.
As part of the British Columbia government’s 30-point housing plan, the Province is expanding the eligibility requirements and increasing the benefits under the Rental Assistance Program and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER).
“Too many people aren’t able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having secure rental housing,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “They worry each month about how to pay their rent, feed their families and meet their needs. With this change, we are making housing more affordable for low-income families and seniors in communities throughout the province.”
Effective September 1, as a result of increased rent ceilings around the province, more low-income families and seniors will be eligible for additional assistance to help with their monthly payments in the private market.
The average monthly payment for SAFER recipients will increase by approximately $78, or 42%, from $187 to $265.
Low-income families will also benefit from higher rental-assistance benefits. Under B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program, the maximum gross household income to qualify for benefits is being raised from $35,000 to $40,000. The average monthly subsidy for recipients is increasing by approximately $67, or 17%, from $405 to $472.
These enhancements build on the work government is doing to reduce poverty in British Columbia. More than 35,000 B.C. households will benefit, which includes an estimated 3,200 newly eligible low-income households.
Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors, said: “Many seniors are struggling to pay their bills, and some are even forced to choose between paying for medications or paying rent. These are decisions no one should have to make, and our government is working to make sure life is affordable for seniors, so they can stay in their homes and communities.”
Isobel Mackenzie, Seniors Advocate, added: “Seniors have been asking for increases to SAFER for a long time, and these changes will be very welcomed by the 23,000 seniors in B.C. who receive SAFER.”
Kara-Leigh Bloch, Executive Director, Seniors Services Society, noted: “Many of the seniors we work with are having a tough time making ends meet. The increase to SAFER subsidies is great news for seniors on a fixed income across the province who have been struggling to pay their rent.”
* The Province is providing $116 million over three years to expand eligibility and increase the average benefits under the Rental Assistance Program and SAFER.
* The enhancements include increasing the maximum rent ceiling and adding a third rental zone for both programs.
* This funding is part of Budget 2018, which launched the most significant investment in housing affordability in B.C. history – more than $7 billion over 10 years.
* The rental assistance programs reimburse part of the difference between 30% of income and the household rent (up to maximum rent ceilings).
* The Rental Assistance Program provides eligible working families earning up to $40,000 a year (effective Sept. 1, 2018), with direct assistance to help them in meeting monthly rent payments in the private market. Approximately 9,250 families receive assistance.
* SAFER provides direct cash assistance to eligible residents, who are aged 60 years or over, to assist them in meeting their monthly rent payment in the private market. Approximately 23,200 senior households receive assistance through SAFER.