Grab bars, light switch adjustments and kitchen adaptations can all add up for seniors and those with disabilities. (Chilliwack Progress image)

Grab bars, light switch adjustments and kitchen adaptations can all add up for seniors and those with disabilities. (Chilliwack Progress image)

New, streamlined process in place for home adaptation rebates in B.C.

Seniors and people with disabilities will face fewer barriers to upgrading homes with new program

The costs to adapt a home really add up. Things like grab bars, light switch adjustments, wider walkways and accessible showers all can improve the safety and health of those who need them.

There has been a process for B.C.’s seniors and people with disabilites to have some of that money spent refunded back to them. But it was complicated and time consuming.Now that rebate process is being streamlined in B.C. to ensure more equitable access.

Dan Coulter, Chilliwack’s MLA and the Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility, says the changes will “help people immensely.”

The Province has made the changes through BC Housing’s program, previously known as the Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program.

It will now be called the BC Rebate for Accessible Home Adaptations (BC RAHA) program, and with the name change comes a less complicated process for rebates. that includes removing the need to obtain a quote for standard accessibility adaptations; ensuring more equitable access to funding by region and type of home adaptation, and increasing access to occupational therapists or other qualified professionals for assessments.

“The relaunched BC RAHA program will help more seniors and persons with disabilities cover the costs of adaptations to their homes,” Coulter said. “In addition to making the disbursement of funds more equitable, the announced improvements also include a streamlined application process and additional support resources to make the process easier for all applicants.”

READ MORE: B.C. couple’s love and life connection blossoms from a shared wheelchair

Previously, applicants were required to obtain a quote for all accessibility adaptations. By removing the need for a quote for standard accessibility adaptions, applications and approvals will be streamlined, and the home adaptations can occur faster.

With set rebate amounts for common adaptations based on average costs, there will be greater transparency in terms of what amount of funding the applicant can expect to receive. This will also help ensure there are no significant discrepancies in funding for similar adaptations among applicants.

To ensure the adaptations accurately address applicants’ medical needs, and that any other needs they may have are appropriately identified, occupational therapists or other qualified professionals will make an assessment for some adaptations. This new requirement supports the medical needs of seniors and people with disabilities.

Instead of using housing income limits, which vary by unit size and community, a new provincewide income limit will be used, based on the low- and moderate-income limits established annually by BC Housing. The new income limits ensure more equitable access to funding by region, and where the applicant lives will no longer be a determining factor.

The BC RAHA program is jointly funded by the provincial and federal governments with an annual budget of $5 million.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Ahmed Hussen, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “That is why our government is partnering with British Columbia to support the creation of the BC Rebate for Accessible Home Adaptations, so that we continue to move towards our goal of building strong communities where Canadians can prosper and thrive, barrier free, now and for the future.”

Eligible households for rebates through BC RAHA will still have access to the same lifetime limit of $17,500 that was available through HAFI. Applications opened on March 18, 2021.

To apply or learn more, visit www.bchousing.org.

READ MORE: Wheelchair-accessible cabins open at Cultus Lake Provincial Park in Chilliwack


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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