The ministry works in partnership with various community services and agencies to provide homeless people with assistance and support services.  The objective is to reduce the likelihood of continued homelessness and promote long term housing stability.


Effective: February 9, 2009

The homeless indicator assists staff to identify clients who have been homeless, in order to provide appropriate and specialized services. 

A client will be considered homeless if they have been:

  • living in public spaces (e.g., on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in tent cities) and/or a homeless shelter for more than 30 days; or
  • brought to a ministry office by a BC Housing Outreach Worker through the Homeless Outreach Program.


Effective: February 9, 2009

The target population for the homeless indicator is chronically homeless people who have been homeless for long periods of time, or who are street entrenched. The homeless indicator should only be selected if the client meets the criteria.

To determine whether to activate the homeless indicator flag, use the following as a guideline.

When the homeless indicator flag should be set

A client has been:

  • living in public spaces (e.g., on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in tent cities) and/or a homeless shelter for more than 30 days; or
  • brought to a ministry office by a BC Housing Outreach Worker through the Homeless Outreach Program.

Note: If in future the client does meet these criteria, the homeless indicator should be set.

The homeless indicator should not be set in the following scenarios

A client is housed or has been living in:

  • temporary accommodation (e.g., staying in a guest room, couch surfing);
  • inadequate accommodation (e.g., no running water, no heat, substandard housing conditions);
  • time-limited housing designed to help them transition from being homeless to living in a permanent form of housing (e.g., transitional housing or second-stage housing);
  • accommodation where tenancy will be terminated within three months of application (e.g., given notice by landlord); or
  • a new location because their previous residence became uninhabitable due to a human caused or natural disaster (e.g., fire, earthquake).

When to remove the homeless indicator

If the housing situation of a client changes from homeless to any of the above housing scenarios, or if the client received a Shelter Allowance greater than $75 per month for 12 consecutive months, then the homeless indicator should be removed. 


During the application process, staff must determine whether an applicant is homeless, and set the Homeless Indicator.

Existing Client Cases

When staff are aware that a recipient has become homeless (based on guidelines above), the Homeless Indicator must be set.  

Effective: January 1, 2020

When staff are aware an applicant is homeless or the applicant is accompanied by a BC Housing Outreach Worker through the Homeless Outreach Program, the application process is expedited. Homeless applicants should be seen immediately upon arrival to the office.  All homeless applicants should receive the same service delivery whether they are accompanied by a BC Housing Outreach Worker or not.

Five Key Application Issues

Eligibility Requirements

  • Orientation is waived [see Related Links – Orientation].  Applicants complete the Application for Assistance [see Related Link – BCEA Application-Stage 1 and 2].  Applicants should have the Application for Assistance completed within the one business day service standard. The EAW is to ensure that the information in the orientation is covered.
  • Immediate Needs Assessment (INA) criteria applied – applications are expedited (same day).
  • Third party checks to be completed prior to issuing, if possible.
  • Consent to Disclosure of Information forms (HR3189) must be signed for staff to discuss the case with a BC Housing Outreach Worker.

Income Assistance Payment – Same Day Service

  • Shelter Information forms (HR3037) are to be processed immediately with security and/or pet damage deposits and shelter issued on the same day.
  • Shelter payments should be made direct to the landlord to ensure the continuity of housing after discussion with the applicant or after careful consideration by staff to administer funds.
  • If an applicant requires a security and/or pet damage deposit, see Related Links – Security Deposits or Pet Damage Deposit.
  • When outstanding documentation (e.g., required ID) is subsequently submitted, ensure the application process is completed, an eligibility determination is communicated, and applicants are provided the applicable assistance in a timely manner.
  • Medical Service Plan coverage is to be provided [see Related Links – Medical Service Plan & Medical Coverage]. If applicant is accompanied by a BC Housing Outreach Worker, the Outreach Worker will assist the applicant to connect with doctors to get Medical Reports or PWD designation application completed.

Articulate requirements clearly

Reporting and follow up to be explained to the applicant, including:

  • Realistic Employment Plan (if required) – see below for further information
  • Medical Report (HR3069) – where the applicant has a drug, alcohol or mental health condition and does not have a physician, other health professionals may be contacted for the same information, e.g., addictions counsellors, social workers, mental health workers, street nurses, substance intervention workers. The supervisor can waive the requirement for a Medical Report in exceptional circumstances (e.g., client with mental health issues is reluctant to see a health professional).
  • Identification requirements – closed offsite files often have required ID.  Applicants without the required ID can also proceed with the “Client Identification Process” [see Related Links – Identification Requirements].
  • Report of all changes and the importance of the Monthly Report (HR0081).
  • Next month’s cheque issue day.

Employment Plan

  • Employment Plans (HR2863) are to be realistic and should not interfere or delay the application process.
  • In rare circumstances, staff may determine that an Employment Plan may need to be waived.  Note that a supervisor is the authority level for these situations [see Related Links – Employment Plan - Deferring, Suspending or Waiving an Employment Plan].
  • Examples of EP activities:
    • Client to continue to work on personal health and well-being to the best of their ability
    • Client to work with BC Housing Outreach Worker (and/or other community agencies) toward seeking stable housing and managing their health, life skills and explore volunteer or employment options
    • Client to identify all work skills to expand future employment options

Caseload Management

  • All cases where the applicant was accompanied by a BC Housing Outreach Worker will be placed on caseload identified by HOM (Homeless Outreach Program).
  • BC Housing Outreach Worker must be notified for follow up when clients in the Homeless Outreach Program are not returning to the ministry office for income assistance. A proactive approach to finding or reconnecting the client is optimal.
  • Close cases if client circumstances are known e.g. moved to another province, client has deceased [see Related Links – Individual Case Management].  If client has a BC Housing Outreach Worker, consult with Outreach Worker prior to closing the case.  
  • If client has not returned to the office for assistance and their circumstances are unknown, allow  cases to auto-close after six months of no contact from the client [see Related Links – Individual Case Management – Case Closure].