In April the AISH program is set to raise the amount that someone is receiving form 1188.00$ to 1588.00$ This is great for people how have been living well below the poverty line for decades. (The same as those making minimum wage but they’re still well below that line, more on that later) 1188.00$ created a lot of challenges not the least of which was housing. It’s a challenge for the person to pay rents as high as 900.00$ on a one bedroom and it is a challenge for Social Workers and others working with people on AISH to help them find something affordable. Most of us go through the motions of applying for subsidized housing all of which have huge wait lists. We call our list of contacts, fish for potential solutions and hold are breath. While this is happening the person is either on the street or in the hospital (pdf). The cost of this is huge.
There are two realities here that we have to accept. One is old, there is not enough subsidized housing space. The second is new, people on AISH make enough money to afford (just) market rent in Calgary. Given the cost of keeping someone in hospital or for them to be on the street and now the client has the money, do we have an obligation to support them in finding market value housing? I realize that we are busy but is it reasonable to fill out an application and wait for a space that may never come?
I hear you, you’re saying “but Mr. Social Work, I don’t have time to do this, the client needs support, I don’t know how! You’re right and if you read back, no where did I say it would be easy. There are some clients that need support to be in the community and that’s a whole different conversation but there are a lot of client’s who simply need help finding an apartment and getting things set up.
My suggestion to you is to step up. You news to find a while to support or facilitate moving you clients into housing. Whether you work one to one to go through the ads and take the client to see and apply or you put on a workshop on unit or in the shelter. You can still have them apply for subsidized housing but you can’t stop there.