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Rent, home supports still struggles for BC seniors: report

(File Photo)

A new report finds seniors who rent in BC are seeing larger portions of their fixed income go to housing

The study by BC's seniors advocate also finds communities lack supports to keep the elderly in their homes longer

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC seniors who rent continue to watch a larger chunk of their fixed income go to housing while communities lack supports to keep the elderly in their homes longer, according to a new report from the province’s seniors advocate.

The third such report from the Office of the Seniors Advocate found of the 19 per cent of seniors who rent in BC, around 21,000 use the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) tax funded subsidy to pay part of their housing, but the payment cap has only gone up nine per cent in the last 12 years, while rent has gone up by as much as 45 per cent.

“The solution can actually be administered very quickly and that would be to increase the cap. We have recommended that to the previous government and to this government,” Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said. “We recommended in a housing report that’s now a couple year’s old that there should be a formula that calibrates the cap to the CMHC average rental rates in market areas.”

The report also says up to 15 per cent of seniors living in residential care could live in the community if there were proper home supports and staffing and more of a reason to go into assisted living rather than full care homes.

“The way we’ve set it up, it’s more financially advantageous for a senior to living in a residential care facility than in an assisted living house,” Mackenzie said. “We have 28,000 subsidized residential care beds in facilities and less than 5,000 subsidized assisted living units in the community.”

The average home support hours delivered per client per year decreased by three per cent from the previous year despite a 3.5 per cent increase in the number of clients, according to the report.