Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Social Services hopes new changes to the province’s social housing program will encourage those who don’t need assistance to seek homes in the private housing market, while getting those who need support easier access.
The five changes to the program includes a modified rent scale, consideration of an applicants social factors, removal of the $800 rent cap, changes to the minimum rental rate and new eligibility criteria involving asset audits and maximum income criteria.
According to Minister of Social Services, June Draude, these changes will encourage those who can support themselves to seek public housing, as there is currently no policy that encourages the move.
“For too long the policies of the Sask. housing programs have encouraged people to remain living in social housing long after their financial situations have changed enough or have improved enough for them to move into private apartments,” said Draude.
“They continue to take up spaces that could be used by people who the program was actually designed to help.”
She said these changes are to ensure the most vulnerable people in the province have access and prevent those who can afford housing from taking advantage of the system.
Program changes will be introduced to the province’s largest urban centers this fall, while the changes will be rolled out in smaller communities across the rest of the province over the course of the next year.
Current tenants not to worry
Although these changes will come into play in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert by the Fall, Draude, explained they would only apply to new tenants.
“I want to reassure existing tenants that they will not be forced out of their homes regardless of their income or assets,” said Draude, adding those with the lowest incomes will be “protected” form the increase.
“Overall, we’re making these changes to ensure new tenants moving into social housing that we own as a government are those with the greatest needs,” she said.