KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I want to start this story by bringing to the readers some recent news regarding shelter allowances. It turns out that some Community Services staff out there were not aware what the amount for shelter allowance really is for married or common law couples. I have encountered several couples who received $535, although for them the shelter allowance is really $570.
So starting within the past month, the good news I am sharing in this story is that these couples are now receiving $570 for their shelter allowances. The couples I am talking about include the ones I wrote about in the following stories you may well remember reading:
- Kendall Worth: How Community Services stops people on income assistance from living together
- Kendall Worth: Online dating, poverty, and that special someone
- Kendall Worth: Love works miracles, but your relationship is none of Community Services business
So anyway, how we found this out about this is that I, as the writer of all three of these stories, got contacted and approached by a few people, plus advocates I work with at Benefits Reform Action Group who claim they know the system and brought to my attention that these couples should be receiving $570. So I called another meeting with these couples and brought it to their attention.
So what these couples ended up doing was they went to their local MLA offices who advocated for them. Within three business days they heard from a local Community Services supervisor who got in touch with the couples. That is when they started receiving the extra $35.00, as well as six months back pay.
These couples were pretty happy to receive that. Their MLA’s informed them that apparently there are several people who work in the Income Assistance system who do not know that $570 is the standard shelter allowance for a couple who is on income assistance.
However one thing we can all agree on is this development does not cancel out that fact that the cohabitation policies of Community Services need to change.
Most of the time when Community Services makes a decision that is wrong, it has to go to an oral appeal. In their case that was not necessary, which is also good news for them.
So now that these couples are getting the standard shelter for couples, $570 a month. Hopefully any other couple who up until recently were receiving $535 will start receiving $570 as well.
Kendall Worth is a tireless anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.
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