How does SAFER work? BC has this does Alberta have this? If so then how much will I be given to help with my rent?

I'm an active independent 68 yr senior with a dog. I want to move from a small town in BC to Calgary to be near my best friend and my cousins. In Calgary subsidized housing will not allow pets. Can I live in a normal apt or townhouse paying 30 percent of my income and then apply SAFER? Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters. I know not all seniors live in senior housing. I do not at this time want to live there. Can I apply for housing in Non-Profit housing and apply SAFER?

A. The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program helps make rents affordable for BC seniors with low to moderate incomes. SAFER provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for eligible BC residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes. The cash is electronically deposited into their bank accounts.

For similar subsidized housing in Alberta, apply to Alberta Housing Authority – check for the office in your area.

i)For example, you may qualify for Direct to Tenant Rent Supplement Program

This is a subsidy paid directly to an eligible tenant to assist with their rental costs, delivered by local housing operators (management bodies) located in various areas throughout the province. The Subsidy is based on the difference between 30 percent of a household's income and an agreed upon market rent, to a maximum subsidy established by the housing operator.

  • Applicant must meet the 2014 Core Need Income Thresholds and citizenship requirements (e.g. have been an Alberta resident for 12 months or more;
  • Priority for assistance will be based on assisting those in greatest need first.

If you are having difficulties finding a housing provider, or there is no housing provider in your area, please contact your nearest Housing Development and Operations office below:

  • Edmonton: 780-422-0122 (dial 310-0000 for toll-free access in Alberta)
  • Calgary: 403-297-7453

ii)You may qualify for Seniors' Self-contained Housing Program

This program provides apartment type accommodation to low and moderate-income seniors who are functionally independent with or without the assistance of existing community based services.  A tenant's rent, which includes heat, water and sewer expenses, is based on 30 percent of a household's adjusted income. The tenant is responsible for electricity, telephone and cable television, plus additional services such as parking.

Senior citizens whose income falls below local limits (refer to 2016 Core Need Income Thresholds document referenced above) and who are functionally independent, with or without the help of existing community based services are eligible.  Applicants are prioritized on the basis of need. 

For more information please call 780-422-0122. Note that if you are receiving one type of subsidy, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for an additional subsidy on top of the first one.

This information is accurate at the time of writing, August 2016.


Pat M. Irwin, BA, AICB, CPCA 

President, ElderCareCanada 
Professor, Distance Learning, Centennial College 
[email protected] 
416 487-6248