Low income redefined

Authority BC Housing
Details

Judith, a single parent with limited financial resources, lived in a BC Housing wheelchair-accessible building with her 18- year old daughter Sarah, who had multiple disabilities. Judith had recently adopted Sarah through the Ministry of Children and Family Development after fostering her since infancy, and was now receiving Post Adoption Assistance, a benefit to help address Sarah’s needs. Although foster care payments had previously been exempt from Judith’s calculation in determining her annual rent subsidy entitlement, BC Housing was now including her Post Adoption Assistance payments as income, resulting in higher monthly rental costs for the family. Judith attempted to raise her concerns about her rent subsidy with BC Housing, but was informed that Post Adoption Assistance is similar to other forms of child support, and therefore considered a source of income under BC Housing’s Rent Calculation Guide. Unsure where to turn next, Judith turned to us. Through our investigation, we asked BC Housing to explain the rationale for excluding foster care payments and other governmentissued child benefits as sources of income, but including Post Adoption Assistance – for which the Rent Calculation Guide was silent. Given that individuals who qualify for BC Housing rent subsidies are predominantly B.C. individuals and families with low income, we also questioned whether BC Housing’s policy to include child support payments as income in tenant rent calculations was consistent with their broader social policy commitment to provide affordable housing and ensure maximum subsidies are available for low income families. We observed that BC Housing may not truly be meeting this objective with their current policy. We consulted with BC Housing who agreed to review and consider amending its policy. In response, BC Housing reported that it would amend the Rent Calculation Guide and extend the income exemptions to include all child support payments, including all federal and provincial child benefits. Judith’s individual complaint to our Office led to broader improvements for all, as these expanded income exemptions will enable families living in BC Housing units to direct more of their financial resources towards meeting the needs of their children.

Category Housing and Property
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2017