Changes to Rental Rates by the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation
Whereas every community that a Saskatchewan Housing Corporation project is situated in is a part owner of that project and should have some say in how their project is used; and Whereas the province said that they were going to discuss upcoming changes to rental policies for the housing projects with the towns and villages and did not; and Whereas the province increased minimum rents by 50 per cent without consultation or appropriate notice; and Whereas the province changed the criteria for renting out apartments without consultation or notice, making it more difficult for people to rent them; and Whereas the two above-noted changes have now made it too expensive and too difficult for most low-income seniors, low-income disabled people, and single-income families to use or even get into the low-income rentals in their own community, resulting in vacancies; and Whereas the province has been making all these decisions unilaterally without consultation; Therefore be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, as the representative of the towns and villages that are part owners of these properties, lobby the Government of Saskatchewan to reverse these recent changes and consult with all of the owners of these properties to determine a mutually beneficial plan of action. Background The province of Saskatchewan made recent changes to low-income rentals without consulting the part owners â€“ the towns and villages where the low rentals are situated. The recent changes to address conditions in the cities had a huge impact on smaller communities. The new criteria to obtain housing makes it harder for low-income seniors, low-income disabled people, and single-income families to obtain housing as the rent is set at 30 per cent of gross household income and the minimum rent has been increased by 50 per cent making it unaffordable and out of reach for those with the most need.
The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) reviews Social Housing Program Policies on a regular basis to ensure the Program assists the most vulnerable households to meet their housing needs. The recent changes to the Social Housing Program ensure low-income households in greatest need have access to affordable, adequate, and suitable housing. Under the program no tenant pays no more than 30 per cent of their income for rent. The 30 per cent limit is consistent with the measure of affordability set by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. When a person's income exceeds program maximums, the Community Market Rent (CMR) rate for the community is charged, because 30 per cent of that higher income may be more than what is considered a fair and reasonable rent in a community based on its size or economic circumstance. The new minimum rent of $326 per month aligns with shelter benefits available from the Ministry of Social Services. New tenants are encouraged to access income assistance benefits available to them. This change does not apply to existing Social Housing tenants paying less than $326. SHC officials have been consulting with housing authorities and municipalities across the province to discuss concerns that have been raised, as well as some proposed changes to address these concerns. The feedback during these consultations was positive, and most housing authorities and municipalities are pleased that improvements are being made. SHC recognized the need to increase asset and income limits for seniors. In addition, updated CMRs will decrease rent for specific types of units in some communities, and includes a fifth category of rates for communities with limited services and very small populations. SHC provided changes to housing authorities for February 1, 2014. In instances where tenants have paid more than the revised CMRs, they will receive credit for the difference paid.