Q: I’ve been on the waitlist for many housing options for years, but haven’t heard anything. Any advice?
A: Two columns ago I wrote about options for seniors applying to subsidized housing here on the Coast. What I did not talk about in that article is the importance of following-up after you have applied. (This is also true if you are applying for non-seniors subsidized housing.) Usually, the people who handle your application provide this information, but because this is a point of confusion among many, I’d like to clarify the “how tos” here.
Once you’ve applied to the various subsidized housing options on the Coast, whether to the BC Housing Registry for subsidized or supportive housing, the Kiwanis apartments or through the Coast Housing Society, it is crucial to keep tabs on your application by following up at regular intervals.
If you applied to the BC Housing Registry, BC Housing requires you to follow-up every six months to keep your application active. Six months to the day you applied, if BC Housing hasn’t had a phone call update telling them you still want to be on the list, your file will go dormant. A dormant file means that housing providers like Greenecourt in Sechelt – who use BC Housing’s “Housing Registry” to generate a list of eligible applicants – will no longer be able to see your file. If your file has been dormant for less than a year, a simple call to BC Housing will reactivate it. This is a chance to let them know if your situation has changed as well. (BC Housing: 604-433-2218; toll-free: 1-800-257-7756) However, if your file goes dormant and then stays dormant for a year or more, you would need to reapply with a new application. For those of you who may be reading this who are thinking: “So you’re telling me my application from seven years ago is no longer valid, because I didn’t follow up, and now I’m at the back of the line?” It doesn’t exactly work like that.
While it would be frustrating to have to redo an application, I asked BC Housing about “going to the back of the line.” They told me people don’t necessarily get selected in the order they apply. A BC Housing Registry employee was very clear in explaining to me that their job is simply to make applications active. After that, it is the housing provider itself that pulls from these active applications, selecting folks who apply based on various criteria, in particular, based on need.
A note about BC Housing applications: If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness; fleeing domestic violence or abuse; or have a serious health condition that is affected by current housing, BC Housing’s “Supplemental Application Form” (available on their website) can be completed by someone who can verify your situation and it can be added to your current application.
If you applied to the Kiwanis apartments in Gibsons, Bob Merilees at Kiwanis let me know it is best to update him every two to six months, or if there are any major changes to your life situation. Bob underlined that – like BC Housing – housing offers at Kiwanis are more on a basis of need than how long you’ve been on the list. To update your file/keep it active, email or call him, with email being the preference. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 604-740-7985.
If you applied to Mountainview Court in Sechelt through the Coast Housing Society, you can email: email@example.com to follow-up or call 604-885-3497.
The take home message is: a) follow-up with your housing applications regularly (put it in your calendar, set a reminder, ask a friend to remind you, or book an appointment with the Resource Centre) and b) if your situation changes – especially if it changes for the worse, it is in your best interest to update your application accordingly, so that housing providers can paint an accurate picture of your situation and your need when it comes to housing.
This information may come as a surprise to some who’ve been on a waitlist for housing for years. If you feel that you are struggling with your home situation, whether because of to health concerns or some other issue, it’s important to remember that there are many services available to support you based on your circumstances. Please feel welcome to contact the Resource Centre at any time if you need assistance with navigating support services.
As well, if you think you have a subsidized housing file that is dormant or inactive, or you would like to create a new application or feel you require a supplemental application but don’t know where to start, reach out to the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre at 604-885-4088.
Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-885-4088.