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Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER)

Lower income seniors renting in the private market may be eligible for a rent supplement through SAFER.

The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program helps make rents affordable for BC seniors with low to moderate incomes. SAFER provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for eligible BC residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes.

BC Housing provides SAFER subsidies to more than 17,000 senior households renting apartments in the private market, including singles, couples and people sharing a unit.

Try the Rental Assistance Program/SAFER calculator​ to get an estimate.

Downloads:

You may be eligible for SAFER if you meet all of the following conditions:

  1. You are age 60 or older.
  2. You have lived in British Columbia for the full 12 months immediately preceding your application.
  3. You and your spouse (with whom you are living) meet the citizenship requirements:  
    • Applicants must permanently reside in British Columbia when applying, and each member of the household must be one of the following: 
      • Canadian citizens not under sponsorship

      • Individuals lawfully admitted into Canada for permanent residence and not under sponsorship

      • Individuals who have applied for refugee status

      • Individuals for whom private sponsorship has broken down

  4. You pay more than 30% of your gross (before tax) monthly household income towards the rent for your home, including the cost of pad rental for a manufactured home (trailer) that you own and occupy.

You will not be eligible if any of following are true:

  • You are under age 60.

  • You live in subsidized housing or a residential care facility funded by the Ministry of Health.

  • You live in co-operative housing and are a shareholder.

  • You or your family receive income assistance through the B.C. Employment and Assistance Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act (excluding Medical Services only).

  • You or your spouse (if applicable) are in Canada under a private sponsorship agreement that is still in force.

  • You do not live in British Columbia.

  • You have not lived in British Columbia for the full 12 months immediately preceding your application.

  • You do not meet the Citizenship requirements.

  • Your gross monthly income exceeds the following:

  Metro Vancouver * Other areas of B.C.
Singles $2,550 $2,223
Couples $2,750 $2,423

* Metro Vancouver includes: Aldergrove, Anmore, Belcarra, Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Lions Bay, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver and White Rock.

Next step: once you have confirmed your eligibility, the next step is to complete an application form

There are three ways to obtain an application form for the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters program:

  1. Online: Download the SAFER Application Form
  2. By mail: If you do not have a printer, you can request a hard copy of the application form be sent to you by mail by completing an online request or by calling call 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756.
  3. In person: Pick up a copy of the SAFER application form at any BC Housing office.

Please see the Questions section for further information.

Next step: once you have completed an application form, the next step is to attach your supporting documents.

When applying for the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) program, the following sections of the application form will require supporting documents:

NOTE: The above sections correspond to the SAFER Application Form. All information collected is for the purpose of determining eligibility and is kept strictly confidential.
Completed application forms and photocopies of supporting documents can be faxed to 604-439-4729 or mailed to:

Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters Program
BC Housing
101 - 4555 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC, V5H 4V8

Please do not include any original documents, only photocopies.

Once your application has been processed, notification will be sent by mail.

Next Step: Once you have sent in your application form, complete with your supporting documents, the next step is to notify us of any changes.


Proof of Income

When applying for the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) program, the following sections of the application form will require supporting documents:

For those over the age of 65 and in receipt of Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), proof of income is not required.

This section corresponds to the "Application Checklist / Proof of Income" section of the application form. See last page for application checklist. Please provide the following supporting documentation:

*If you are not able to find your Income Tax Return or Notice of Assessment another option is to submit a Proof of Income Statement (Option C print) from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This can be obtained by:


1) Tax Information*

You must submit copies of both of the following tax documents for yourself and your spouse (if applicable ) to determine your eligibility and possible benefit entitlement amount.

There are two ways that you can provide your tax information:

  1. Provide consent for Canada Revenue Agency to release to BC Housing information from your tax records; or
  2. Detailed Income Tax return - An Income Tax Return is an official document on which one is required to list income amounts, deductions, contributions and related financial information for tax reasons.

    Income Tax Notice of Assessment - A Notice of Assessment (T451) acts as proof of Canada Revenue Agencies’ confirmation of the given year’s income.
    • Logging into your CRA My Account and printing your assessment; or
    • Calling CRA at 1-800-959-8281 or 1-800-959-2221 to request an Option C print.

2) Proof of current gross monthly income

Please provide photocopies of your current gross monthly income from the following sources:

  • Cheques or cheque stubs (minimum three most recent - must show gross pay and deductions)
  • Bank statements showing direct deposit, T-slips or other income statement(s)
  • If you or your spouse (if applicable) are newly working please provide a letter from employer stating your monthly or annual gross salary

3) Self-Employment or business income (if applicable)

If your household income from last year included income from self employment, please provide a copy of Statement of Income and Expenses from last year’s Income Tax return

Please note: Those receiving Income Assistance are not eligible for the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) until their Income Assistance has ended and their Income Assistance file is closed. Existing Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) recipients who begin to receive Income Assistance, whether for themselves or spouse, must contact BC Housing within the same month to avoid an overpayment.

Note: The above sections correspond to the application form.  All information collected is for the purpose of determining eligibility and is kept strictly confidential.

Next step: once you have completed an application form, the next step is to attach your supporting documents.


Proof of Age

For those over the age of 65 and in receipt of Old Age Security (OAS), proof of age is not required.

To be eligible for SAFER, you and/or your spouse must also be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a refugee claimant and over the age of.
Please also provide a photocopy of one (1) of the following as proof of age for you and/or your spouse.

  • Birth or Baptismal Certificate - For those born in Canada, please provide a photocopy of your Canadian birth certificate. If you are not able to find your birth certificate, you will need to contact Service Canada for the province or territory of your birth to obtain a copy. To find the website for your province or territory please visit the Service Canada website.

    SAFER Supporting Documents - Birth or Baptismal Certificate
  • Driver’s Licence - For those that have a driver's licence, please provide a photocopy.

    SAFER Supporting Documents - Driver s License
  • Passport - For those that have a passport, please provide a photocopy.

    SAFER Supporting Documents - Passport

Proof of Rent

To determine the amount of assistance for which you your may be eligible, you need to provide information showing what you and/or spouse is paying in rent.

Please provide a photocopy of one (1) of the following as proof of your rental amount:

  • Your Tenancy Agreement
    • If your tenancy agreement is more than 12 months old, we also require one additional item from this list
    • This sample tenancy agreement is provided courtesy of the Residential Tenancy Branch of B.C. Your tenancy agreement may look different.
  • Notice of most recent rent increase
  • Rent receipt (no more than three months old) confirming:
    • Your name, rental amount, and address
    • Date
    • Landlord's name, telephone number, and signature
  • Most recent rent cheque cleared by your bank
    • Copy must show the front and back
    • Must be stamped by the bank

If you are unable to provide one of the proofs listed above, please have your landlord, building manager or building owner complete the Landlord Declaration section on page 4 of the SAFER application form


Bank Information

Payment by direct deposit is simple, quick, and convenient. Your payment is made directly into your account with no need to deposit a cheque or make a trip to the bank. This reduces turn around time for your payment and makes is easier to audit.

To receive your Shelter Aid by direct deposit:

If you are a new SAFER applicant, either attach a VOID cheque or complete the SAFER Direct Deposit Request form on page 5 of the SAFER application.

If you are an existing SAFER client, please submit either a VOID cheque or letter from your bank showing your bank account information and bearing the bank's stamp. The cheque or letter must have your SAFER account number written on it.

An acceptable VOID cheque must be personalized by the bank. We will not accept cheques with hand-written information in the top-left corner.

SAFER Supporting Documents - Void Cheque

Completed application forms and photocopies of supporting documents can be faxed to 604-439-4729 or mailed to:

Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters Program
BC Housing
101-4555 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC, V5H 4V8

Once your application has been processed, notification will be sent by mail.

Next step: Once you have sent in your application form, complete with your supporting documents, the next step is to notify us of any changes.

Submit the application package one of three ways:

  • In person: Bring your application package to a BC Housing office
  • By mail: Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters Program, BC Housing, 101-4555 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4V8
  • By fax: 604-439-4729

Please do not include any original documents, only photocopies.

Once your application has been processed, notification will be sent by mail.

Next step: Once you have sent in your application form, complete with your supporting documents, the next step is to notify us of any changes.

It is important that you notify the SAFER office if there is any change to your income, the number of people living with you, or if you receive a rent increase or if you move.

To contact us call (604) 433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756 outside the Lower Mainland.

Benefit Month Payment Date
January 31
February 28
March 31
April 28
May 31
June 30
July 31
August 31
September 29
October 31
November 30
December 29

General questions

  1. What municipalities are included in the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD)?
    Aldergrove, Anmore, Belcarra, Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Lions Bay, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver, and White Rock.
  2. Why are there different rent ceilings for different areas of the province?
    Separate rent ceilings were established to reflect the higher average rents in the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

Application questions

  1. How will I know that my SAFER application has been approved?
    BC Housing will contact you by mail.
  2. How is the rent subsidy calculated if I pay room and board?
    Where two or more meals per day, care, or personal services are included in the Rent amount, the Recipient is considered to be paying Room and Board. The Rent deemed to be paid is equal to fifty per cent of the total amount paid for Room and Board, regardless of the actual amount paid for the room portion.

Eligibility questions

  1. What are the citizenship requirements?
    Applicants must permanently reside in British Columbia when applying, and each member of the household must be one of the following:
    • Canadian citizens not under sponsorship
    • Individuals lawfully admitted into Canada for permanent residence and not under sponsorship
    • Individuals who have applied for refugee status
    • Individuals for whom private sponsorship has broken down
  2. My family sponsored me to come to Canada. Am I eligible?
    No. Seniors who are in Canada under a sponsorship are not eligible for subsidy while the sponsorship agreement is still in place.
  3. What amount of monthly income would make me ineligible to receive SAFER?
    You will not be eligible for a SAFER subsidy if your gross monthly income exceeds the following amounts:
      Greater Vancouver Regional District Other Areas of the Province
    Singles $2550 $2223
    Couples $2750 $2423
  4. May I apply for the SAFER rent subsidy if I am in a Long Term Care facility or in a residence that is subsidized through another government agency?
    No. Seniors residing in a Long Term Care facility or in a residence that is subsidized through another government agency are not eligible for subsidy.

Program & payment questions

  1. How is the SAFER subsidy paid?
    Assistance is paid by direct deposit to your bank account on the last working day of the month. You will need to provide us with a VOID cheque or a Preauthorized Debit Form from your bank. If you do not currently have a bank account, you will need to open one.
  2. When will my SAFER subsidy be effective?
    If you are eligible, your subsidy will be effective the month your application is received in our office. For example, if an application is received on July 29, it will be effective for the month of July. The SAFER subsidy is paid in arrears; for example, the payment for July will be made at the end of the month.
    Once your application has been processed, BC Housing will contact you by mail.
  3. Is there a minimum amount that SAFER will pay me?
    Yes, effective April 2014, the minimum is $25 per month.
  4. What if I need to change my bank information?
    You can change your bank information by forwarding a copy of a blank cheque marked "void" or a pre-authorized debit form completed by your bank.
  5. What if I am unable to use direct deposit?
    Please contact our office directly: 604-433-2218 or (outside Metro Vancouver) 1-800-257-7756.
  6. Do I ever need to reapply for SAFER?
    Yes. Each year a reapplication form will be sent to you three months before your birthday. You must complete and return the reapplication in order to continue to receive a subsidy.
  7. I received a rent increase, what do I do?
    Please forward a copy of the rent increase notice to the SAFER office. Your file will be updated and subsidy adjusted, if applicable.

    Please note, if your rent is over the maximum allowable rent ceiling you may not receive an increase to your subsidy. However, it is important that we know what your actual rent is so that we can take that into consideration as we review the SAFER program in the future.
  8. I am moving, how do I get my subsidy transferred?
    Contact the SAFER office immediately. The SAFER office will also require that you forward by mail a copy of your tenancy agreement or other proof of tenancy and rent. Please be prepared to provide the following information:
    • ​Effective date of move;
    • New address;
    • New rent amount;
    • New landlord's name and contact information;
    • Details on anyone who will be living with you at the new address (if applicable).
  9. My income has changed; do I need to let you know?
    Please inform BC Housing immediately so that we can make any necessary changes to your file. This does not include the cost of living increases to income such as CPP or OAS.
  10. Do I declare my SAFER subsidy on my annual income tax return?
    No. SAFER is a non-taxable rent benefit.

Do you have a question? Talk to someone at BC Housing. Call 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756.