Letter: Low-income seniors need better support

The maximum SAFER benefit of $600 allowed last year has this year been dropped by nearly 30 per cent to $435.60.

To the editor:

You probably know that the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program helps make rents affordable for B.C. seniors with low to moderate incomes.  SAFER provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for eligible B.C. residents who are age 60 or over.  According to SAFER’s website it is a relatively small number of vulnerable tenants who qualify for program benefits.  BC Housing provides SAFER subsidies to about 20,000 senior households renting apartments in the private market.

What you may not know is that the maximum rent ceilings set by the program are $765 for singles in Metro Vancouver and $667 for singles in other areas of B.C.  I don’t know when the ceilings were set, but they were the same last year. They were unrealistic then, and they remain unrealistic in today’s feverish housing market.

In addition, the maximum benefit of $600 allowed last year has this year been dropped by nearly 30 per cent to $435.60.  I have Googled this issue and I cannot find any media coverage of the situation.

Seniors like myself need adequate levels of support at this time of unaffordable housing.  I hope you will call on the government to provide the same.

Dianne Varga, Kelowna

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