Gov’t raises roof on rental supplements

Monday, March 31st, 2008

‘Subsidizing families where they live, without stigma of social housing’

Kent Spencer

Coquitlam single mom Brooke Aydon — seen here with daughter Mai Anh, 7 — says the B.C. government’s rental subsidies have given the two ‘a way better quality of life.’ Photograph by : Jason Payne, The Province

Starting tomorrow, new eligibility rules will make it easier for low-income renters to qualify for rental supplements from B.C. Housing.

“I’m really pleased with this program,” Housing Minister Rich Coleman said yesterday.

“It gets families a quiet subsidy. They don’t have the stigma of living in social housing.”

The income ceiling will be raised to $35,000 from $28,000 and the maximum monthly benefit for a family of four will rise to $765 in Metro Vancouver and $621 in other parts of the province. Further details are available at or by phoning 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756.

Coleman said raising the income threshold will allow more people to collect.

Brooke Aydon, a Coquitlam single mom, knows how much the aid can help those who are struggling.

“It’s a great program for people working just as hard, but not making quite as much,” said Aydon, 27, a fulltime restaurant server.

She said new digs have made a world of difference to her seven-year-old daughter, Mai Anh.

Aydon qualified for $394 monthly assistance after noticing a brochure at a Coquitlam pool last year.

The pair moved from a small basement suite to a townhouse with lots of space for her daughter.

“The basement suite wasn’t ideal. The townhouse is so much better. It’s a really nice neighbourhood. There’s a great school. My daughter can play outside with other kids.

“We have a way better quality of life. We just love it here,” she said.

The new place costs $1,140 a month. It comes with things the basement suite didn’t have, such as closets, new carpets, a washer and a dryer. She’s even proud of the quality of the doorknobs.

Aydon encourages those who need help to inquire.

“Don’t be embarrassed. People who are working — they’re trying. I’m so glad I found the brochure. I’m sure there are other people who don’t know. It’s quite a bit of extra money,” she said.

About 4,800 families are in the year-old program, which receives about $20 million annually from the province. Coleman said it provides faster help than building new or renovating social-housing units.

“I wanted to subsidize people where they live,” he said. “It brought immediate results. If someone had said to me a year ago we’d have almost 5,000 families enrolled, I would have been ecstatic. You can’t build 5,000 [units] in one year.

“People are telling me the change in their lives is remarkable. One woman said her son was playing soccer and nutrition in the household had gone up. It’s working in places as small as New Denver and as large as Vancouver.”

The program can handle up to 15,000 families. “We’re hoping to attract more,” said Coleman.

© The Vancouver Province 2008


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