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Learning about income assistance

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Working in certain professions or being in an affluent social economic group may shield an individual from coming across people on income assistance. Hence, their perception of this population may be easily shaped by what they have heard from their social circle; for example, if their friend group believes that people on income assistance are freeloaders or the amount they receive from the government is too much. Although this misconception may be less present around the UFV community because of our easy access to information, there is still a good population of students who still believe that people on income assistance are morally responsible for their situation because of their laziness and unwillingness to work hard to earn a living.

As a social work student at UFV, I often work with people who are on IA, whether that be through practicums or work opportunities. I have seen people apply for income assistance for various reasons, like a mother fleeing an abusive partner who was the financial provider, a previously working father who couldn’t go back to work because of an accident, or an individual struggling with various debilitating addictions. I could attempt to convince you with statistics, studies, and my experiences about the integrity and plight of people on IA but I think I may run out of space.

The current amount a single person receives on income assistance for one month is $710 with $375 allocated towards shelter. However, they need to have proof of shelter by providing completed and verifiable intent to rent from the property manager they plan on renting from before they can be allocated the shelter portion.

Are you able to find rent for only $375 and pay for other life necessities, especially in Vancouver? I wonder how many of us could live off this amount, with all we have to do and pay for in a month. For example, the average cost of rent for a 480 sq. ft. studio apartment in Abbotsford is $1,038 while in Vancouver it’s $1,962, a basic lunch meal cost $10, and cost of transportation is $67 in Abbotsford and $109 in Vancouver monthly. The listed basic costs of living excluding clothing, bills, and other miscellaneous already exceeds what individuals are currently getting from the government.

For the week of March 1118, 2019, the SOWK 380 students will attempt to live off the amount those on IA receive, which is $11 a day. We will upload a video of our experiences on Instagram using #IncomeAssistanceIsn’t.

I encourage you to join the challenge and live off the amount those on IA receive for a day, a week, or even a month depending on how much you can tolerate and make a video sharing your experience by following the SOWK 380 class on Instagram @communitydevelopment_ and like our Facebook page, Income Assistance.Isn’t, to find out more about Income Assistance. You will also find useful information about income assistance on our Instagram page.

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