Wherever You Go, There You Are: Getting Help Paying for Your Move

By: 

Neil Morrison

Are you faced with finding a new place to live or somewhere safe to keep your things while seeking a new home? Do you receive income from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR)? If so, you may be able to get some help to cover the cost of your move. This article explores how.

 

Introduction

Moving is expensive. Assuming that you have a one bedroom apartment and that you are physically able to pack your belongings yourself, you can expect to pay roughly $400 for a local move, though moves of $800-$1000 are not uncommon. Storage is expensive, too, with the average local price for storing the furnishings of a one bedroom apartment at $140 per month. On top of these expenses, you may need to purchase boxes, tape or other moving supplies to help with packing. The average cost of locally purchased moving supplies, again for a one bedroom apartment, is $90.

But wait, there is help (for some of us, sometimes…)! The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction may supply the funds needed to cover your moving-related costs, including movers, moving supplies, and storage, through a benefit called the “Supplement for Moving, Transportation, & Living Costs.” However, as with most things, MSDPR may or may not supply these funds depending on their assessment of your circumstances. 

 

Getting started

MSDPR will only supply funds to those who receive income, hardship or disability assistance.  You can apply for help with moving expenses either in person at a MSDPR or Service BC office, or via phone, email or fax. We advise that you apply two weeks or more before your move to allow MSDPR time to process your request and, if your request is approved, issue payment.  Movers and storage units are particularly in demand during the first and last days of the month, so begin your search as early as you can. MSDPR will not fund moving-related expenses retroactively, so contact an MSDPR worker before spending money on moving, moving supplies or storage.

 

Cost of the Move

As part of your request, you must show MSDPR that you have sought out average-priced moving services. You will need to provide the name and contact information, as well as the quoted price of your move, from two local moving or storage companies. Be sure to keep copies of this information for your records.

 

Those Without a Home

Shockingly, the MSDPR policy states in bold that “Transients are not eligible for a moving costs supplement.” In practical terms, this means that you may be denied moving-related assistance if you are not currently receiving the “Shelter Amount” as a portion of your assistance cheque.  Needless to say, TAPS cannot stand housing-based discrimination, so please get in touch with us if you are denied moving expenses because you are without a home.

 

Is the Move “Justified”?

As suggested by the lack of moving-related assistance for “Transients”, MSDPR decides who, how and when they will help with moving costs. Due in part to gaps in the law, MSDPR decision-making related to moving expenses is more subjective and discriminatory than seems fair. This is seen in the proof MSDSI requires in order to find that a move is “justified” and worthy of funding.

MSDPR may pay for your local moving-related expenses if you are moving in order to pay lower rent in another building. In this case, you will have to provide up-to-date proof of your current rent, such as a signed letter from your landlord or a current tenancy agreement, as well as proof of the rental cost for your new home, such as a tenancy agreement or an Intent to Rent form from MSDPR signed by your new landlord.

MSDPR may pay for your local moving-related expenses if you are moving due to an eviction that they do not hold you responsible for. In this case, they will require a copy of a Notice to End Tenancy or a Dispute Resolution decision from the Residential Tenancy Branch, either of which must show that you were not the cause of the eviction.

MSDPR will not help with local moving-related expenses if you are moving due to an eviction that they believe you caused and that you have not challenged through the Residential Tenancy Branch dispute resolution process. 

MSDPR may pay moving-related costs, including personal transportation, if you are leaving Greater Victoria or Vancouver Island.  They may also assist with your move out of the province or even the country.  However, the further your move, the greater the cost and, consequently, the more scrutiny MSDPR will give to your application. Please Google “Moving, Transportation, & Living Costs Supplement”, or contact a TAPS advocate for more information regarding moving assistance outside of Greater Victoria.

 

Despite the restrictive process of application, applying to the MSDPR for assistance with moving-related expenses is worthwhile. If your application is successful, MSDPR may cover your entire moving or storage bill. If your application is denied, please consider contacting a TAPS legal advocate at 250-361-3521.  MSDPR decisions regarding the denial of supplements, including those related to moving expenses, are subject to reversal through reconsideration and appeal processes that TAPS can help with.