The federal and provincial governments have announced a $444-million investment to fund rent support for nearly 35,500 households in Alberta.
On Tuesday, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen and Alberta Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon unveiled details of the Canada-Alberta Housing Benefit.
The benefit will support the province's recently redesigned rent supplement program, and includes both long-term support for those who are most in need and temporary support for working Albertans and those who are between jobs.
"Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home," Hussen said during Tuesday's announcement in Calgary. "But far too many people in Canada are forced to make the impossible decision between paying their rent and buying their groceries."
Details on eligibility criteria and how to apply for rent support can be found on the provincial government's website.
The temporary rent assistance benefit opened May 1.
It's available in Alberta's seven largest cities, and households are eligible if they're below local income thresholds and either employed or have been employed in the past two years and are not receiving social assistance. It has a two-year limit, but after two years, households can reapply for the long-term rent assistance benefit.
Long-term rent assistance has been available since April 1, and is available through most housing management bodies across Alberta, the province says. Households are eligible based on local income thresholds, which are based on income and local rent
For example, in 2020, the subsidized housing rates were $38,000 annual income for a bachelor apartment in Calgary, up to $71,000 income for a four-bedroom home.
The benefit is part of the 10-year agreement between the two governments, under the National Housing Strategy, to renew and expand social housing and subsidize households directly. The Canada-Alberta Housing Benefit will support renters through to 2028.
Lauren Ingalls, CEO of Westwinds Communities, which provides affordable housing to seniors in southern Alberta communities like High River and Okotoks, said the programs make a real difference. She said one resident described rental support as having saved her life during the pandemic.
"Homes provide shelter, safety and a place to rest and recharge … quality affordable housing is not a privilege, it's a basic need," she said.