Disabled Vancouver woman should keep rental subsidy, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of a 56-year-old disabled Vancouver woman who argued she should not lose her subsidized housing allowance because of the trust fund left to her and her sister by their deceased father in 2012.

The woman, identified as S.A., has lived in a unit operated by non-profit Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation since 1992, and is unable to work because of her disability.

Subsidies are granted to MVHC tenants whose assets are valued below $25,000, and once a year tenants are asked to provide a verified asset statement. 

At issue was whether S.A. should have to list the trust as an asset.

In 2015 MVHC withdrew S.A.’s subsidy, claiming she had failed to provide a complete asset statement because she hadn’t listed the trust. Her rent went from $265 per month to $894 per month.

S.A. argued that because she was not the sole trustee of the fund, and could not compel payment without agreement of her sister, it could not be considered as an asset for the purpose of rental assistance.

In its decision, the court ruled that S.A. “has no actual entitlement to the trust property under the terms of the trust, and her interest in the trust is not an asset that could disqualify her from being considered by MVHC for a rent subsidy.”

A number of disability groups including the Canadian Canadian Association for Community Living and Council of Canadians with Disabilities acted as interveners in the case.

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