As of March 1, Saskatchewan’s Affordable Housing Rental Program will be phased out in larger communities to make way for a new Social Housing Rental Program. The goals of the transition are to improve affordability for individuals and families in the greatest housing need, to ensure low-income individuals and households pay appropriate rents based on their incomes, and to establish that only households truly in need are eligible for the government assistance.
“It makes sense to have one housing program that makes it easier and more affordable for households in need,” says Keith Hanson, Saskatchewan Housing Corporation Board Chair. “This transition will result in significant reductions in monthly rents for hundreds of Saskatchewan seniors, families and individuals and will convert 2,700 housing units for people who need them the most.”
Starting in March, tenants currently using the Affordable Housing Rental Program will have the opportunity to transition to the new program. However, eligibility will change as rent will be based on 30 per cent of a household’s income rather than market rental rates. According to the Government of Saskatchewan, approximately 600 households currently using the Affordable Housing Rental Program have incomes that suggest they are able to afford regular market housing. Under the program, rents were set at or below market value and July 2012 was the last time a rent increase was announced.
“It is our intent to ensure that Saskatchewan people with the greatest housing need, such as persons with disabilities and families with low-incomes, have better access to safe, quality housing,” says Donna Harpauer, Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation. “At the same time, we also need to ensure that our government housing remains truly affordable for those who live in it, and that is why this transition is so important.”
Although tenants will not be forced to transition to the new Social Housing Rental Program, nearly 1,300 low-income households could benefit from rent reductions as a result of the shift. Those who choose not to transition or do not qualify will see their rents increase gradually in order to encourage higher-income households to enter the private market.
For more information on the Social Housing Rental Program, click here.