Why $21

For this year’s Welfare Food Challenge, participants will be expected to live on only the food they can purchase with $21 dollars. This is less money than the last 2 years because although welfare has remained frozen at $610, gentrification is pushing up rents of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) in the Downtown Eastside. We use the rent for SROs to decide a realistic rent as, “Traditionally, SROs have been the housing of last resort before homelessness” (City of Vancouver).

According to  Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation average rent for a bachelor suite in Greater Vancouver is $876, and in the lowest rent areas it is $630. So $450 is probably an underestimate of what many people pay.

Why $21 for a Week’s food


$84/month * 12 months = $1,008 a year
$1008/a year/365 days = $2.76 a day
$2.76 a day * 7 days = $19.33, generously rounded up to $21
No money for clothes, a coffee, haircuts, or any social life or treats.

Note on SRO rent:
The City of Vancouver found that the average rent of an SRO is now $450 a month. This contrasts with the Provincial government’s shelter allowance portion of welfare of $375 a month.

(Reference: City of Vancouver, Report from General Manager of Planning and Development Services, Feb 24, 2014 to Council., page 4 of Appendix I (page 312 of 320 pages) )

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