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Eligible low-income renters to get one-time $430 benefit, B.C. government announces

Apartment buildings are seen in the West End of Vancouver, on Thursday, January 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Apartment buildings are seen in the West End of Vancouver, on Thursday, January 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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Low-income B.C. seniors and families already enrolled in one of two rental support programs will soon receive a one-time benefit, the province announced Tuesday.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced the $430 payment will be given to seniors and families who are supported through the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, or SAFER, program as well as those getting a subsidy through the Rental Assistance Program.

"We know that seniors are facing real challenges," Kahlon said during a news conference. "We've been working closely with the seniors' advocate and many other seniors' advocate organizations around the province to ensure that not only are we expanding housing opportunities for seniors, building affordable housing options for seniors, but also, today, helping seniors directly with costs to cover their rents or groceries or other cost pressures they may be facing."

The one-time benefit will go to current recipients in the two programs, with no additional action required and payment will be disbursed this month.

Additional changes are being made to the SAFER program to allow approximately 4,800 more seniors to qualify for rental supports. The income limit for SAFER will increase from $33,000 to $37,240. Existing recipients will also see an increase of about $110 per month, which will bring the average rental subsidy to $310.

Kahlon said the money for the top-up payment is coming from a $12.3 million federal top-up for the Canada Housing Benefit, while changes to the SAFER program are being funded by the province.

"These are dollars we had available, so we wanted to make sure we had any dollars that we had available were protecting seniors that desperately need these supports," he said.

Kahlon said there are currently about 20,000 seniors enrolled in the SAFER program.

"We want to ensure with the rising cost of housing that renters can continue to stay in their homes," he said. "We think that this will help a lot of seniors that are really struggling right now." 

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