Saskatoon

Saskatchewan budget 2018: Rent supplement for low-income and disabled residents being phased out

The province will end any new applications for the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement this summer.

Province expects move will save $5 million

The Ministry of Social Services will stop accepting new applications for the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement in July. (Kevin O'Connor/CBC)

Saskatchewan is phasing out a program designed to help low income families and people with disabilities pay their rent. 

The province will end any new applications for the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement this summer.

A family with one to two children living in Saskatoon or Regina can receive a maximum supplement of $305 per month under the program, while a single person can receive a maximum disability supplement of $262 per month.

The Ministry of Social Services said the program is being capped because the provincial housing market has cooled off since the supplement was created in 2005. Back then, the provincial vacancy rate was sitting around 4.5 per cent. It's now almost double that, at 8.9 per cent.

The move is expected to save the province roughly $5 million this year.

"With this improvement in the market, it makes sense to refocus funding where the need is greatest," a news release said. "The Province's Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP), Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program and Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) will continue to support the most vulnerable households with their shelter needs."

In 2016, the ministry came under fire when it announced its plans to remove exemption of the rental housing supplement when calculating benefits for people receiving extra benefits under social assistance. The move was expected to cost affected families hundreds of dollars a month.

The government reversed the policy several months later, stating that it still intended to overhaul the program, but existing beneficiaries would be grandfathered into the program.

Social Services said the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation has some social housing units available, and anyone impacted by the change is encouraged to apply.

Anyone with questions is asked to contact the ministry.

Meanwhile, the province said it is working with the federal government to implement a new Canada Housing Benefit in 2020.

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