Where Welfare Money Goes
The BC government provides $710 a month in welfare to an single person, without a recognized disability, who is expected to look for work. It was at $610 a month from April 2007 until September 1, 2017 – and then raised $100 to $710 a month. It is still not enough.
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 $548 a month*.
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 for a cell phone and $28 for transportation is included below.
And you need to spend something on keeping yourself and your clothes clean.
Why $19 for a Week’s food
|Rent (realistic cost of an SRO)*||$548|
|Room damage deposit||$20|
|Bus fare ($6 compass card, 2.20/trip, or 10 trips at 2.85) (to look for work)||$28|
|Cell phone (to look for work)||$25|
|Total of all non-food expenditures||$631|
|What’s left for food||$79|
$79/m x 12 months = $948 for a year
$948 a year / 365 days = $2.60 a day
about $2.60 a day x 7 days = $18.20 a week, rounded up to $19
Allow $19 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 most recent report coming from the Carnegie Community Action Project shows that the average lowest rent in SRO hotels in the DTES is $548. This contrasts with the Provincial government’s shelter allowance portion of welfare of $375 a month.
(Reference: Carnegie Community Action Project, Out of Control: The Rate of Change and Rents in the Downtown Eastside, page 8 of 24 http://www.carnegieaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CCAP-SRO-HOTEL-REPORT-2016.pdf)