Today, nearly 20,000 eligible households are waiting for affordable housing – a number which has doubled in the last decade. Unless changes are made to our affordable housing system, these waitlists will continue to grow. Alberta’s government will not sit idly by and continue to run programs which clearly are not meeting the needs of Albertans.
When Albertans elected this government in 2019, we committed to transform the affordable housing system. Plans are underway to provide more flexible, fair, and inclusive housing options to meet Albertans’ needs now, and in the future.
I am pleased to announce one of the first steps in the housing transformation: a new approach to rent assistance which will help more Albertans, including working families and those most in need.
With more flexibility in housing choice, the program will include a long-term benefit for vulnerable households and a new temporary benefit for working Albertans and those between jobs. The redesigned Rent Supplement Program will provide support for about 11,600 households – 3,800 more than are served today.
Our program review clearly identified some households in Alberta’s big cities have been overlooked by provincial housing programs. The new benefit will be available to households with low income who are employed or recently unemployed. These households are often unable to access the deeper subsidy, which prioritizes households with the lowest income. The new benefit will provide temporary support, to encourage participation in the workforce and planning for the future.
I would like to thank the housing operators who helped us reimagine the Rent Supplement Program, and the panel for pointing us in the right direction. These changes are in line with the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Review Panel.
This past year has reinforced the importance of safe, stable, and affordable housing. I am confident the redesigned Rent Supplement Program will rise to the occasion, and provide critical housing support for Albertans.
I encourage you to learn more about the redesigned Rent Supplement Program at Affordable housing programs.
Josephine Pon served as Minister of Seniors and Housing from April 30, 2019 to October 24, 2022.