New portable rent subsidies applauded by advocates
'It just creates so much more independence,' says New Brunswick Association for Community Living's Krista Carr
Thirty more people with disabilities are being granted the freedom to choose a living situation that works for them, without having to worry as much about not being able to afford it, say advocates and the provincial government.
The Department of Social Development announced 30 new portable rent subsidies for individuals with disabilities in the provincial budget released last month. The additional subsidies will be created on April 1.
Krista Carr, the executive director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living, which works with people with intellectual disabilities, has seen a marked difference in the lives of people who receive the portable rent subsidies.
The organization has been involved with a pilot project using the rent subsidies since it was launched in 2013.
"It just creates so much more independence for the individual with the disability regardless of the fact that their income is lower," she said.
"We're hugely excited."
Portable rent subsidies, under the rent supplement program, are different than traditional rental supplements.
Instead of being attached to a certain building, they are attached to the person who applies for them.
This enables that person to choose a location that meets their needs.
Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers said this means that people will be able to thrive knowing that they are no longer passively involved in their own decisions.
"It's important for everyone to have respect and dignity," Rogers said.
"This is an opportunity for that, for the person to make their own choice."
To apply for the supplements, a person must have some sort of long-term impairment, as verified by a health-care professional, be on disability assistance or be a long-term mental health client.
The person must also either be paying less than 30 per cent of your income for a shelter that doesn't meet your needs, or paying more than 30 per cent of their income for a dwelling that does.
The subsidy will then pay the landlord the difference between 30 per cent of the applicant's income and the actual rental rate of the apartment.
'Revolutionized his life'
The rent supplement program started as a pilot project in 2013 with 30 subsidies. The next year, 30 more were added.
Last year, no new subsidies were added, which means that this year's additions will mark 90 total subsidies.
It's estimated that these new subsidies will cost roughly $225,000 per year.
They will be split among the eight regions in New Brunswick according to need.
Carr shared a story of a person she worked with who she watched start to thrive under the portable rent supplement program.
He managed to find a place that was next to a bike trail, so he could ride to his seasonal job, and he had a community of neighbours to look out for him and make sure he was doing well.
"It's just totally revolutionized his life, his independence, his network, the number of individuals he knows," she said.