After 10 years, the Surrey Homelessness & Housing Task Force is delighted to see an increase to welfare rates. As of October 1, 2017 (cheque issue date: September 20, 2017 payment), single people on income assistance and Person with Disabilities [PWD] benefits will receive a much needed boost to their income of $100 /month. What this means is for a single person on welfare they will now receive $375 for shelter and $335 support and for someone receiving PWD benefits their new rates will be $375 for shelter and $758 support benefits.
What does this mean to people that are homeless or low-income people seeking housing in Surrey?
It was difficult 10 years ago to get a place for $375. Today it is impossible. It means people that are homeless or at risk of losing their housing will continue to tap into their support money intended to cover the cost of food, bills and transportation* in order to get and stay housed. So they will continue to struggle to find and secure safe, affordable housing in Surrey. We continue to see the affordable (low cost) market housing suites evaporate. There has been a significant increase in people losing their housing due to the opportunity for landlords to get sizable increases in rent if they can oust the tenant and re-rent the unit (Landlords evicting citing moving family into the unit or extensive repair required). And once back into the housing search market similar priced units can no longer be found. The impact can be seen in our streets and through community services where more and more people are seeking help to get affordable housing.
To the increase in rates, yes, we applaud the increase. We also applaud a poverty reduction plan. And what we’d really love to see in Surrey: Low cost housing units being built.
*Excluding people with PWD, as people that receive provincial disability benefits currently get a transportation allowance and the government is promising to restore the previous bus pass program