Sask. moves to single rental program

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January 29, 2015 9:18 AM

The Government of Saskatchewan wants to phase out one of its two rental programs, an effort to move higher income earners using the Affordable Housing Rental Program into the private market, freeing up space and shortening the waiting list for those most in need.

After it is phased out they would continue with the Social Housing Rental Program, which they feel is more fair, transparent and easier to understand.

“The Affordable Housing Program is almost a first come, first served. It didn’t have any income testing until we formed government and we put a ceiling on the income but it is a blunt instrument,” said Minster of Social Services Donna Harpauer.

“It has a fixed rent. So you could have two units side-byside, identical units, two families with identical incomes and identical circumstances, that would be paying two different rents because of the two separate programs.”

In contrast, the social program adjusts the rent to 30 per cent of the tenant’s income and also takes into account things like family size, members with disabilities and other specific circumstances that may impact the amount of rent they can afford.

There are a little over 14,000 government units under the social program with just 2,700 under the affordable model. People presently under the affordable program can choose to switch, but those who don’t will see their rent gradually increased each year.

This transition is being done in 29 communities across the province, including Lloydminster, and will be monitored as the rent for those under the Affordable Housing Rental Program is increased over three years.

“About 1,300 of them would see a decrease in their rent with this change and the remainder will see an increase,” Harpauer said. “Some will be as small as $10 a month and they will be at their 30 per cent of their income. Others, of course, will see a greater increase in their rent.

“We think many of the higher income levels will find that they can find something more appropriate in the higher market once we accelerate the amount that they pay.”

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