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  • Province and federal government must commit their shares of funding to rental assistance, new Edmonton Social Planning Council report states

    Province and federal government must commit their shares of funding to rental assistance, new Edmonton Social Planning Council report states

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 12, 2020 EDMONTON - A new report released by the Edmonton Social Planning Council shows that the toll of households placed on long waiting lists for rental assistance is high and action is urgently needed. The High Cost of Waiting: Tenant-Focused Solutions to Enhance Housing Affordability sets out to document the impacts on quality of life for Read More
  • Alberta Child Poverty Report - Edmonton Journal Op-Ed

    Alberta Child Poverty Report - Edmonton Journal Op-Ed

    https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-ending-child-poverty-in-alberta-is-our-moral-obligation Alberta Child Poverty Report Edmonton Journal Op-Ed By Joel French, Sandra Ngo, and Ajay Hartenfeld Pandhi Every night, 160,000 children in Alberta suffer the all-encompassing effects of poverty. They are more vulnerable to issues affecting mental health, educational attainment, cognitive development, housing, relationships, employment, and food insecurity throughout their lives. In a province as wealthy as Alberta, it is Read More
  • John Kolkman on CBC Edmonton AM with Mark Connolly and Tara McCarthy

    John Kolkman on CBC Edmonton AM with Mark Connolly and Tara McCarthy

    Funding to help people find affordable housing has been cut 24 per cent by the province. We'll take a look at what that means for low income Albertans trying to find housing. Click here to listen.   Read More
  • Report shows investing in families is key to ending child poverty

    Report shows investing in families is key to ending child poverty

    EDMONTON - The Alberta College of Social Workers, Edmonton Social Planning Council, and Public Interest Alberta have jointly released a report on the state of child and family poverty in Alberta called " Invest in Families: Ending Child Poverty is Good for All .” Click to download: Invest In Families: Ending Child Poverty Is Good For All Click to download: Invest In Families: Read More
  • 2019 Vital Topics - Sports and Recreation

    2019 Vital Topics - Sports and Recreation

    Edmonton Vital Signs is an annual check-up conducted by the Edmonton Community Foundation, in partnership with the Edmonton Social Planning Council, to measure how the community is doing. This year we will also be focusing on individual issues, VITAL TOPICS, that are timely and important to Edmonton.  This edition focuses on the impact of Sports and Recreation. Download: Vital Topic Read More
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By Alicja Siekierska, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - Starting in August, nearly 1,000 lower income Edmonton households relying on monthly rent subsidies will find themselves short a crucial $50.

The Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) in Edmonton is reducing the maximum rent supplements given to 916 households that rely on the subsidies, from $550 a month to $500.

In the March provincial budget, the government cut rent supplement funding across the province by $6.6 million, forcing the CRHC to make program cuts and reduce their maximum amount of direct-to-tenant rent supplement going toward lower income households.

CRHC executive director Greg Bounds said the reduction was the best way to ensure those households currently receiving rental assistance would continue to do so.

"We had a reduction in the amount of dollars available in our budget, but we wanted to ensure that we could continue to supply rent supplements to everyone who is using our programs today," said Bounds.

Many are criticizing the government's rent supplement cuts, saying the reduction will have a drastic impact on Edmonton's most vulnerable population that relies on the subsidies each month.

"It's going to put these families in a position where they are forced to make an impossible choice," said NDP Municipal Affairs critic Deron Bilous at a news conference earlier this week. "Either they pay their rent and keep a roof over their heads, they pay the bills or they can feed their families."

Members of the opposition are calling on the government to restore the rent supplement funding in the province.

"The impact of these cuts for these families is significant," said Bilous. "Many of the families that are receiving this supplement are recipients of (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) funding or other forms of income support."

Municipal Affairs spokeswoman Trisha Anderson said the rent supplement budget was reduced based on spending allocations from previous years. She said the government will still be able to supply more than 12,000 households across Alberta with rent subsidies each month.

John Kolkman, a research co-ordinator for the Edmonton Social Planning Council, believes the reductions are going to be damaging given the current state of the city's rental market.

"It's a very challenging time to be implementing these kind of cuts," said Kolkman "They are coming when vacancy rates are dropping, and while rental rates are going up. It's very much becoming a landlord's market."

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.'s most recent market survey, out of every 100 rental units in the city, only one is available. The apartment vacancy rate in Edmonton dropped from 2.7 per cent last year to a mere 1.2 in April 2013.

The survey also indicated that while vacancy rates continue to decline, rental rates are rising. In Edmonton, the average cost of a two-bedroom suite increased by 4.2 per cent from April 2012 to April 2013.

"Not only should the cuts be reversed, but the province should be investing more in rental assistance programs," said Kolkman.

Kolkman said rent assistance, including the direct-to-tenant rent supplement program, can act as a homelessness prevention measure.

"If you cannot afford to pay your rent, there is a real risk you may become homeless."

The households currently qualifying for the rent subsidies will see their monthly payments reduced starting Aug. 1, however, the new maximum will only be implemented after each individual client's annual income review date.

Bounds said the process of switching over to the reduced subsidy will happen gradually.

"This isn't happening overnight. It will be implemented in stages over the next year."

Bounds said the direct-to-tenant supplements are the only rent subsidies affected by the budget cuts. He said the CRHC will continue to accept new, qualified clients, although they can expect to be put on a waitlist. 

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Video Feature

Global News - 1 in 6 Alberta children lives below poverty line

Read more about the Edmonton Social Planning Council report on child poverty in Alberta.

Alberta Child Poverty Report - 2018 Click to Download