N.W.T. rent supplement program underused, says minister

Only 68 people in the territory are using a program designed to help supplement the rents of working poor who make too much to qualify for public housing, even though hundreds may be eligible.

Only 68 people using program designed to accommodate 150, which provides supplement for working poor

A program in the N.W.T. meant to help the working poor pay for their rent is considerably underused, according to Housing Minister Robert C. McLeod.

The Transitional Rent Supplement Program is meant for people who spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, but make too much to qualify for public housing. It provides users supplements of $500 a month for up to two years.

N.W.T. Housing Minister Robert C. McLeod says the territory's Transitional Rent Supplement Program is considerably underused. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

When the program launched in 2012, McLeod said about 600 people in Yellowknife alone might be eligible for the program.

But in the legislative assembly yesterday, McLeod said that only 158 people have used the subsidy so far.

He said the program was designed to help 150 people a year, and that there are currently only 68 people using it. 

McLeod's update came after prompting from MLA Wendy Bisaro, representing the Frame Lake riding in Yellowknife.

"Sixty-eight out of a possible of a possible 150 — that's unfortunate," she said. "I would have hoped that the program would be oversubscribed."

Remaining time for program unknown

Bisaro asked McLeod how much time is left for the program.

He said the housing corporation hasn't set an end-date for the program. But he added that of the $1 million set aside for the program, only $100,000 has been used.

Bisaro said the program should be opened up to people who rent rooms, as opposed to full apartments.

McLeod said the housing corporation plans to review the program.