Through BC Housing, the province has made improvements to a program that helps seniors and people with permanent disabilities or diminished abilities with the cost of making adaptations to their homes for independent living.
Home adaptations could include exterior and interior ramps and door widening to accommodate a wheelchair, and bathroom modifications, such as grab bars, shower seats and handheld shower heads.
Previously known as the Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program, the updated BC Rebate for Accessible Home Adaptations (BC RAHA) program features a number of changes including, but not limited to: 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,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary secretary for accessibility. “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.”
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.
Eligible households for rebates through BC RAHA will still have access to the same lifetime limit of $17,500 that was available through HAFI, for adaptations that directly address an individual’s permanent disability or loss of ability and improve their ability to perform the basic activities of daily living.
Applications opened on March 18, 2021.
Interested applicants and those looking to learn more about BC RAHA can visit: www.bchousing.org/BC-RAHA.