As a result of federal and provincial investments in affordable housing, a new program is available to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities finance home modifications for accessible, safe and independent living.
Through a $15-million combined investment over the next three years, the Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program will provide eligible homeowners and landlords with financial assistance of up to $20,000 per home, in the form of a forgivable loan. Funding for the program is shared equally by the federal and provincial governments.
"Our government is working hard to improve the lives of seniors and persons with disabilities," said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Minister Responsible for British Columbia on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). "Through the new Home Adaptations for Independence program, our government is working with the Province of British Columbia to develop and implement solutions to housing."
"The funding will help people living with a disability retain their independence and improve their quality of life," said Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing. "This partnership with the federal government will go a long way to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities create a home for themselves that is comfortable, safe and accessible."
Eligible renovations and retrofits include handrails in hallways or stairways, ramps for ease of access, easy-to-reach work areas in the kitchen and bathtub grab bars and seats. All adaptations should be permanent and fixed to the home, except for equipment designed to give access to existing parts of the home such as bath lifts.
The HAFI program was made possible following the signing, in July 2011, of a new Canada-B.C. affordable housing agreement. The Government of Canada and the Province of B.C. are contributing equally over three years to fund provincially-designed and delivered programs that support a range of housing needs for low-income individuals, families and seniors.
This program will provide assistance for B.C. residents who wish to make adaptations and remain in their own home. The combined investment of $180 million will support housing programs that help B.C. residents' access safe, affordable housing.
The Government of Canada, through CMHC, will invest more than $2 billion in housing this year. Of this amount, $1.7 billion will be spent in support of almost 615,000 households living in existing social housing. In British Columbia, this represents some 71,000 households. These investments are improving the quality of life for low-income Canadians and households living in existing social housing, including individuals who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, seniors, people with disabilities, recent immigrants and Aboriginal people.
Over the last decade, the Province has invested $2.8 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families. This investment has helped create close to 21,000 new units of affordable housing - and almost doubled the number of households who qualify for assistance. This year, the Province will invest approximately half a billion dollars in a diverse range of social housing programs to help more than 95,000 people keep the cost of housing more affordable in British Columbia.
More information on the program is available at: www.bchousing.org/HAFI
CMHC has been Canada's national housing agency for more than 65 years. CMHC is committed to helping Canadians access a wide choice of quality, environmentally sustainable, affordable housing solutions, while making vibrant, healthy communities and cities a reality across the country.
A backgrounder follows.
Office of Minister Finley
Jan. 27, 2012 Ministry of Energy and Mines
and Minister Responsible for Housing
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
The Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program
The Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program will be available to low-income seniors and people with disabilities over a three-year period from 2012 to 2014. The federal and provincial governments will contribute a combined total of $5 million per year toward the program.
- Financial assistance of up to $20,000 per home in the form of a forgivable loan. The exact amount is based on the cost of materials and labour required.
- The loan will not need to be paid back if the applicant adheres to program requirements that include continuing to occupy the home or limiting rent increases for tenants.
- For homeowners, where underlying deficiencies within the home require remediation before adaptations can be successfully completed, further funding assistance up to a maximum of $20,000 per dwelling may be considered. The homeowner will be required to obtain quotes and applicable permits, and an inspection by BC Housing may be required.
Types of adaptations
- Examples of eligible adaptations include handrails, access ramps and walk-in showers with grab bars.
- All adaptations should be permanent and fixed to the home. Exceptions can be made for equipment designed to give access to existing basic facilities, such as bath lifts.
Low-income seniors and persons with disabilities living in their own home or in market rental accommodation are eligible for assistance if:
- You are a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant and permanently reside in British Columbia.
- You or any member of your household has a permanent disability or loss of ability that causes difficulty with daily living activities.
- Your total household income and assets are below the limits established
- The assessed value of your home is less than the limit established for your area.
Tenants in market rental accommodation will be able to apply with the assistance of their landlord.
More information on the program including eligibility requirements, step-by-step guide and application are available at: www.bchousing.org/HAFI
Office of Minister Finley