Why $18?

Where Welfare Money Goes

The BC government provides $610 a month in welfare to an single person, without a recognized disability, who is expected to look for work. It has been at this level since April 2007.

Rent
The amount provided for rent is $375, but it is almost impossible to find anywhere for this money. Even in the Downtown Eastside most single rooms (SROs – about 120 square feet, no kitchen, a shared bathroom and often with vermin) costs $479 a month*.

Room Deposit
You have to pay a damage deposit; usually ½ of a month’s rent. Welfare takes this off your cheque at $20 a month until the deposit is paid, usually in 11 or 12 months. In theory, when you leave the tenancy you should get the deposit back, but manyt imes the landlord keeps the deposit.

Look for Work
To look for work and contact the welfare office you need a phone, so $25 is included below. There are no funds for transportation.

Hygiene
And you need to spend something on keeping yourself and your clothes clean.

Total welfare $610
Rent (realistic cost of an SRO)* $479
Damage deposit $20
Bus tickets (to look for work) – will have to walk everywhere $0
Cell phone (to look for work) $25
Personal hygiene/laundry $10
What’s left for food $76

$76/m x 12 months = $912 for a year

$912 a year / 365 days = $2.50 a day

$2.580 a day x 7 days = $17.50 a week, rounded up to $18

Allow $18 for a week’s food
No money for clothes, a coffee, haircuts, or any social life or treats.

* Note on SRO rent:
SROs are the cheapest accommodation in Vancouver.
The City of Vancouver found that the average rent of an SRO is now $479 a month. This contrasts with the Provincial government’s shelter allowance portion of welfare of $375 a month.
Housing and Homelessness Report Card: Part 2, page 14

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