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# Monday, 24 August 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009 20:35:48 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )
The Government of Canada announced in September 2008 that $1.9 billion dollars, over 5 years, would be made available for housing and homelessness programs for low-income Canadians. As part of this initiative, the renovations programs were extended for an additional 2 years, up until March 31, 2011. These programs are available to Canadian seniors, those with disabilities, as well as low-income households; most are delivered by the Provinces and Territories.

The Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence (HASI) offers financial assistance for seniors who require minor home adaptations that will allow low-income seniors to remain living independently and safely. Eligible adaptations are minor items that are related to loss of ability and daily activities. In order to be eligible these adaptations must:

•    Be permanently installed/fixed to the dwelling;
•    Improve the access to basic facilities in the dwelling;
•    Increases the physical safety for the affected resident, i.e. handrails, easy-to-reach work/storage areas in the kitchen, grab bars in the bathroom, etc.

Either the homeowner or the landlord can apply for this assistance if:                                     

•    The occupant of the residence if at least 65 years of age and is experiencing difficulties with activities that are related to daily living that is brought on either by illness or advancing age;
•    The total household income is or below the program income limit for that specific area;
•    The home is a permanent residence.

Financial assistance for this program is available via a forgivable loan with a maximum of $3500. This loan will not be required to be repaid as long as the homeowner agrees to continue residing there for a minimum of 6 months (the loan forgiveness period). In the case of rental properties, the landlord must agree to not increase the rent of the property as a result of the new adaptations.

For Canadians with disabilities, financial assistance is available through the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities (RRAP – Disabilities). This program is designed to help homeowners/landlords to make modifications to the property that will make the property more accessible to persons with disabilities, i.e. eliminate physical barriers and safety risks. Modifications must be related to housing as well as the occupant's disability, i.e. handrails, chair lifts, bath lifts, etc. All work to bring the home up to minimum health and safety standards must be completed in order to be eligible; if this amount exceeds the maximum forgivable loan then the owner must assume the additional costs.

Homeowners and/or landlords may qualify for this program as long as the property is:

•    Already occupied, or will be occupied, by a low-income person with a disability;
•    Is owned and has a value below a certain amount;
•    If a rental property, the rent is less than the established levels for that specific area;
•    Meets minimum health and safety standards.

Assistance for this program is in the form of a forgivable loan and will not have to be repaid as long as the terms and conditions of the program are followed. Homeowners must agree to continue to own the home for as long as the loan forgiveness period (up to 5 years.) Landlords must agree to an established rent that can be charged during the lifetime of the agreement as well as an occupancy restriction to a household with an income that is below a set CMHC level.

This program is set into 3 different geographical zones for Canada; loan amounts vary depending on the region:

Zone 1: Includes the southern areas of Canada; homeowners can receive a loan of up to $16,000, landlords up to $24,000.

Zone 2: Includes the northern areas of Canada; homeowners can receive a loan of up to $19,000, landlords up to $28,000.

Zone 3: Includes the far northern areas of Canada; homeowners can receive a loan of up to $24,000, landlords up to $36,000.

As well, areas that have been defined as remote may be eligible for additional assistance.

For additional information on these, as well as other programs, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
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