featured Poverty

Kendall Worth: When on Income Assistance you just can’t win

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – You readers of the Nova Scotia Advocate may remember the story No privacy in her building yet nowhere to go about the young woman who is on income assistance who was being harassed by a male neighbour.

We spent some time together recently where she gave me an update on her story. The news is a mix of good and bad.

First the good news.

This was the situation she was facing. Her neighbour would constantly say “hello, I am knocking on your door only for the purpose of getting to know you, since you are my neighbour.”

She mentioned he was not very polite about the way he said it. He kept aggressively inviting himself over after she has explained to him several times that she is not looking to make friends with her neighbours within the building.  

The landlord would not take her seriously.

Last year another person who lives in her building witnessed this neighbour of hers bother her, and behaving inappropriately toward her. He took his cell phone out and took a video of what her neighbour was doing to her.

They went to the landlord together and played the video for him. The landlord  apologized to her for not taking her seriously before, and the neighbour was given notice to leave. His apartment lock and the locks to the building got changed immediately.  

She celebrated the neighbour’s departure, within the limitations of what she as an income assistance recipient can do to celebrate.

After all, when you are on income assistance you have next to nothing as in money to do stuff like celebrate.  

Now to talk about her bad news!

Some three or four months months ago she had her annual review with her caseworker, and she walked out believing that everything is fine.

But now she is told that she will lose part of her benefits. She is appealing that decision.

I can’t help thinking how if we had a guaranteed basic income none of this would have been a problem, especially it that monthly income was something like $2500, like I suggest in this story here.

Under a guaranteed basic income she wouldn’t have to prove her situation during her annual review.

And she would have been able to move to a new place and escape her neighbour a lot sooner.

Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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One Comment

  1. It is true, sadly. When one is in receipt of income assistance, if it’s not one thing it’s another. It seems like you just can’t win. The bad news in this story is merely one reason why I *always* take a witness with me these days, usually legal counsel, and make notes.

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