Seniors’ Column

This week's column looks at ways to help maintain personal independence in the home.

Would a new ramp, a walk-in bathroom shower and also handrails help you to maintain your personal independence when living at home? If so, there exists welcome news directed at those of us who live on a low income, who are seniors or those who have a disability.

The Province of British Columbia in association with the Federal Government is presently sponsoring a program entitled Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI).

This program provides financial assistance to eligible applicants who wish to continue to reside within the comfort of their home.

Our physical needs begin to change as we grow older, and accordingly, there may be a need to modify one’s home environment by adapting the dwelling’s accessibility with the overall intention of promoting safe and independent living.

If you or a member of your family is experiencing difficulty in performing day-to-day activities the HAFI funding assistance program may be available to help.

There are qualifications levied including completion of an application form which explains the applicants’ income level, value of the property and various adaptations which are directly related to your disability or diminished abilities.

Included items which may be up for consideration are ramps to be installed for ease of accessibility making it easier to reach work and storage areas in the kitchen or similar work area of the home. Other adaptations include the installation of hallway or stairway handrails. Level handles could be applied to doors as well as the addition of walk-in showers with grab bars or bathtub grab bars and seats.

All adaptations should be permanent and fixed to the home, although some exceptions can be made for equipment designed to improve access to existing parts of the dwelling such as bath lifts. Note however that supportive care items such as portable aids like walkers and household appliances are not eligible. Neither are emergency repairs to roofs and furnaces as well as maintenance work to the home.

It is especially welcome news that financial program assistance may be available through this program making their home more accessible and safe. The exact amount will be based on the cost of materials and labour necessary for the required adaptations to be carried out.

Note that if the home you live in is rented by you, the landlord can apply for the grant on your behalf. The assistance awarded arrives in the form of a grant or forgivable loan, however it is important to note that you first must be qualified to take advantage of the program, and that the application must be approved before the funds are forthcoming.

Contact BC Housing (Homeowner Protection Branch) at 604-646-4789 for further information, and to request the application forms be mailed out to you, call 604-646-7055. Download the documentation from


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