A fellow senior got help getting on subsidized housing waitlists by contacting the Resource Centre. If I call you up or make an appointment, what will that help look like?

When we get a senior (or soon-to-be senior) client who gets in touch about accessing subsidized housing options here on the coast, there are a few things we can talk about, and help with.

First, we provide context on what is available locally, and where these units are located. When people say they want to “get on the list”, we talk about the three separate application forms necessary to be on the list for all the coast options. Why three forms? Because, three umbrella organizations – Kiwanis Seniors Housing Society, Coast Housing Society, and BC Housing – individually manage the six or so different addresses (which include apartments and townhomes) that make up the coast’s seniors subsidized housing offerings.

If a person qualifies, the waitlist to move in may be one, two, ten years long. In one or two cases, I have seen things come up for people in much much less than that, but the main thing we suggest is just get on the lists ASAP.

Once you understand what is out there, you can decide to apply to one, all or none of the housing providers. In terms of completing the application forms, they can be completed with pen and paper, on the computer using a simple PDF editor program on your computer, or for one of the forms, through an online application form. 

I NEED HELP COMPLETING AND/OR SUBMITTING MY APPLICATION(S), WHERE CAN I GET HELP?

At the Resource Centre, we can print out or email these forms to you. We can offer help filling out these applications in-person or over the phone or online. We can help you navigate the process of tracking down supporting documents like bank statements or making copies of ID required by the various application forms.

If folks want help filling all three application forms, I typically tell people to plan for two hour long appointments, and a one and a half hour appointment. Sometimes we can cram it into two.  If you have a support person in your life who is good with a pen or computer who may be able to help you from the comfort of your home, that is a good option too!

For seniors with a low to modest income who are renting from a landlord, or planning to rent from a landlord, there is a way to get these costs subsidized too. Whether you are renting for the long term, or waiting to get a spot in the subsidized units, look into BC Housing’s subsidy called SAFER (Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters.) The amount you are eligible for is determined by a number of factors, including the cost of your rent and your income. Amounts can vary, but many receive $100-$200 per month, or in some cases more. Even if you change rentals, this subsidy goes with you (as long as you still meet the requirements and jump through whatever hoops BC Housing requires.) Call us or email us for info, or go to the SAFER calculator to check your eligibility: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-programs/rap-safer-calculator

THE HOUSING CRISIS IS MAKING ME FEEL HOPELESS, WHAT DO I DO?

If your motivation to get on the subsidized housing lists is because you are facing eviction and/or at risk of homelessness please contact us for an appointment to speak to us in more detail about your situation.. We can support you with getting on all the subsidized housing lists and look into how much SAFER would contribute to a future rental, in hopes of bridging the gap for what you are able to pay. For the immediate future, we can go through options for emergency funding that may be out there, further subsidies that might apply to you, and help you comb rental ads online. We can also connect you to local social workers who can act as a support network, as well as other community workers who are here to help and may have access to funding or knowledge of their own.

If you are a senior (or any person) facing eviction, and not already in touch with our community legal advocate Ken Carson, it may be in your best interest to do so to be sure you understand your rights. Call Ken at 604-989-5771.

Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Contact us: help@resourcecentre.ca or 604-885-4088.

***This column originally appeared in the Coast Reporter in January 2022