The good news is that the program has been funded for 2019! You can get a grant to pay up to 100% of your bathroom (and home) renovation to make it accessible (if medically needed) and safe for seniors and people with disabilities.
- The funding limits have dropped from $20K to $15K 100% grant Plus an additional 50-50 cost share of up to $2500 on $5000. This brings the total possible grant to $17500, with $2500 in homeowner/landlord participation.
- BC Housing has clarified and streamlined the paperwork and process for the application. Some changes involve adding proof of citizenship or immigration status paperwork, They have also clarified what paperwork is needed for people living in stratas, cooperative housing and mobile home parks.
- Applications MUST be complete before sending in paperwork. Missing paperwork has a time limit of 90 days to be provided or you must start the process again.
- The new application has eliminated the need for multiple contractor quotes/estimates. Only one quote is now needed for each type of work to be done. Labour is still not covered if you are doing the work yourself.
- You can only get covered ONCE in a lifetime for HAFI renovations made after April 1, 2019. The funding is a lifetime maximum of $17500. That means that if you move, you will not qualify for a new grant. We are not sure how that will affect renters or homeowners that are forced to move or couples that apply under one person and later need renovations for the other. BC Housing will need to clarify these areas in years to follow.
- If you have the Disability Tax credit and you are over the regular income limit, there may be allowances that will still allow you to qualify for the program. Please contact BC Housing directly
- BC Housing has further restricted adaptions to be medically necessary and they require repurposing of bathroom fixtures to be done whenever possible (i.e. keep existing countertop and sink, but replace the faucet only). They have specifically excluded hydrotherapy jets, countertops, lighting, fans, sinks, and luxury materials.
- Payment reimbursement has been clarified. Before, you could get reimbursement in stages for larger contracts, so the cash flow could be better managed by the contractor and the homeowner. Now, 100% of the work must be completed once your application is approved and the work must be fully paid for by the homeowner BEFORE you can request reimbursement. That means that you must be prepared to take out a loan or cash in investments to pay your contractor and then wait up to 2-3 months after the work is completed for reimbursement. If you are unable to afford this, then you need to find a contactor that is willing to finance some of the project.
What is essentially the same:
- Applicants must meet eligibility guidelines, which include:
- Household income limits (everyone who is deemed part of the household must meet the income guidelines collectively). That means if your adult child lives with you his or her income is added to yours to see if you qualify. Exceptions are if you are deemed not in the same household (i.e. there is a separate suite or a third party renter). Income bracket is not based on the number of bedrooms your actually have, but what your household would typically use (i.e. a couple is one bedroom, but a mother and daughter are 2 bedrooms).
- Household assets must be less than $100K not including RRSPs and the principal residence and car. GICs count as part of household assets.
- The person needing the renovations must live in the home being renovated as their principal residence.
- The BC Assessment value must be below the Home Value Limits table for your geographic area.
- The Housing Income Limits Table and Home Value Limits tables on the BC Housing website is still the 2018 guidelines, but it is expected that this will soon be updated to 2019 amounts.
- Replacement of bathtubs with accessible showers, or walk in tubs is still covered, as is storage accessibility, ramps, grab bars, higher toilets, etc.
- The adaptions must be medically necessary, but you do not need to provide a doctors note or referral initially, but BC Housing may ask you for one after they review your application.
- If you want other work or upgrades to materials (i.e. adding a new mirror or custom colours, or hydrotherapy jets) done that does not qualify, you can still do it, but you will need to pay for it privately.
- You cannot start work until you have received approval. Work done before approval will not be eligible for reimbursement.
BC Housing HAFI Frequently Asked Questions Handout.