KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A while ago I told you how a huge rent increase left three tenants scrambling for shelter, and how their friend Jenny promised to do the best she could to help them somehow.
One of the friends is currently paying $650, another is paying $725, and the third is paying $750. Starting March 1st, rent for all three of them is going to be $950 a month. They live in different buildings.
As I wrote last time, being on income assistance, that only leaves them roughly $160 a month for food and incidentals.
All three of them went to apply for public housing but they were told there is a three year waiting list.
I will talk about some possible good news a bit later in this story.
As we all know we have to be careful when it comes to helping out an income assistance recipient. For example, if you move from an apartment to renting a room in someone’s house, your income assistance allowance will be reduced to the boarding rate of $300.
Also, if you move in with a roommate, your shelter allowance gets cut in half.
Say if you have someone in your life of an income assistance recipient who has a romantic interest in you?
Moving in with you romantic partner, that changes you situation on income assistance. One of the friends, she actually has somebody in her life who has that type of interest in her. He offered she could just move in with him, not as roommates, but as a romantic couple.
My story Love works miracles, but your relationship is none of Community Services business explains why this would be a risk and is not advisable when you are on income assistance.
After she carefully considered, she decided to hold off.
But there is good news coming their way.
As part of Jenny’s advocacy to help keep her friends from becoming homeless, the real good news is the fact that Jenny was talking with people she knows through her church.
Over those past few weeks some people from her church got together and talked about helping out so that her friends do not become homeless as of March.
They bought an empty house out in the community within these past few weeks, and decided to section that house into three apartments.
They would each have their own apartment with their own kitchen and bathroom. People from her church were in touch with Community Services to find this out before they went ahead.
They are working with city councillors to get building permits to do renovations. They should have the permit by the first week of January.
The electrician and plumber have both agreed to volunteer their time meaning waiving their labour costs. The carpenter is semi retired. They have all agreed to work day and night if they have to make sure that the new home is ready by March 1st.
The group who is also going to act as their landlord agreed to charge an affordable rent with Heat, hot water and power included. They will have money left from their Income Assistance check and continue to be able to make $350 from their part time work before income assistance claws back anything from their earnings.
Of course we must remember that other income assistance recipients are not so lucky. Their housing problems will not get solved that easily.
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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