The cost of housing is hitting seniors hard as the rate of those using property tax deferral has skyrocketed, while the reliance on rent subsidies for seniors is growing too fast.
That’s according to a new report by B.C.’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
According to the report, in 2017/18 property tax deferral by seniors has risen 53 per cent since 2013/14, with a 21-per-cent increase in the last year alone. In 2017/18, there were a total of 57,305 seniors deferring their property taxes, of which 13,179 were new users of the program.
Total deferrals in 2017/18 are $208,868,338.
The report also says that the rent subsidies through the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program “continue to grow beyond the rate of the target population.”
There was a seven-per-cent increase in the number of SAFER recipients, with 22,956 seniors receiving the supplement and a 34-per-cent increase in the aggregate amount paid for a total of $71 million in SAFER subsidies paid.
“As always, this report highlights there are a significant number of supports for seniors, and while some services increased in tandem with the growing seniors’ population, others are not keeping up with demand,” Mackenzie said in a statement. “The cost of housing is affecting seniors as the number deferring their property taxes has grown exponentially. In addition, SAFER data show that seniors who rent are having a more difficult time as more are claiming the SAFER grant and they are receiving a higher subsidy, telling us the gap between income and rent is growing.”