Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society (LLSCHS) is a major provider of affordable housing in Langley City with 625 units for independent seniors and people with disabilities.
In 2013, the provincial government stopped providing direct rent subsidies for four of the buildings that the society manages. LLSCHS was providing internal subsidizes for the last few years, but this was not sustainable for the society to maintain. There are three other affordable housing buildings that LLSCHS manages which currently receive direct government rent subsidies.
Currently, most residents in LLSCHS independent affordable housing units pay about 30% of their income towards rent. For buildings that no longer have direct government subsidies, this will increase to 33% of a tenant’s income.
LLSCHS is now requiring that most tenants apply for the SAFER program which helps make rents affordable for seniors with low to moderate incomes —under $2,550 per month income for singles and $2,750 per month for couples— who pay more than 30% of their income towards housing.
One of the current challenges with the SAFER program is that there is a rent ceiling. The maximum amount of rent that the province will recognize for the subsidy is capped. For a single person, the maximum rent that the province will use to calculate the SAFER subsidy is $765 per month for singles and $825 for couples.
LLSCHS one bedroom unit rent is $850. If you look around Metro Vancouver, you would be hard pressed to find a rental unit in a good state of repair for $765 to $825 per month.
For people that live in LLSCHS units, the society is committed to ensuring that no tenant will pay more than 33% of their income towards housing.
|The new rent subsidy model for LLSCHS independent affordable units.|
As rents continue to increase in Metro Vancouver, people that currently use the SAFER program will find that more and more of their income is going towards housing. Without a change to the rent cap, many will be paying more than a third of their income towards housing.
The SAFER subsidy and other rent subsidies seem to be the provincial government's preferred model of providing affordable housing to low to moderate income people. With the increase in rents for even modest units in our region, and the end of direct operating support for many affordable housing providers, the caps for the SAFER subsidy and other subsidies need to increase. If not, there is a real risk that more people will end up living in poverty, or end up homeless.