In February 2014 the BC government updated the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC. The updated strategy directs government to continue providing and enhancing private market rental assistance through direct financial aid to seniors, and low to moderate income working families with children.
This is part of a broader strategy that prioritizes assistance to the most vulnerable British Columbians, and ensures that social housing units are available to those who need them most.
Rental assistance is a cost-effective, flexible and direct cash subsidy aimed at keeping low to moderate working families and seniors renting in the private market. This approach has a number of advantages:
- Recipients can choose where they live and take the subsidy with them if they move, for example, to be near better employment opportunities, or family and friends.
- It eliminates the stigma of receiving social assistance because nobody but the recipient needs to know about the supplement.
- It does not require the availability of a dedicated unit in public housing thus making more affordable units available quickly.
- It is responsive to the immediate housing needs of recipient families and seniors, and is easily changed according to future need.
The Rental Assistance Program has eased private rental housing affordability for over 21,000 British Columbian families and helped free up social housing units for those who need them most.
The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program provides 17,000 low-income British Columbians age 60 or over who rent in the private market with direct cash assistance.
In April 2014, the province introduced enhancements to both of the above programs, which will result in an extra $40 per month for recipient families, and $34 per month for seniors on average.
For information on rental assistance click here.