(4 February 2015)
Improving Housing Programs for Low-Income Earners
As we work to finalize the budget, our government is focused on controlling spending and keeping taxes low while continuing to invest in infrastructure that keeps Saskatchewan strong. Notwithstanding the global price of oil, we’re committed to the cornerstone of our Growth Plan – fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.
Building a better quality of life starts with a strong foundation. This can be challenging for those living with disabilities, individuals on fixed-income and families with low-income. To that end, we are making changes that will help those most in need with access to housing they can afford.
Our government has decided to transition the Affordable Housing Program into the Social Housing Program in Saskatchewan’s largest centres. This means, effective March 1, 2015, anyone who applies for government-owned rental housing in urban centres will only be eligible for the province’s Social Housing Program, where rent is based on 30 per cent of income.
Existing tenants under the Affordable Housing Program will have the opportunity to transition to the Social Housing Program and, based on their income, almost 1,300 low-income households will immediately benefit from a rent decrease. Other tenants who remain in the Affordable Housing Program will pay a lower market rent, but these rents will increase over time. It just makes sense to have one housing program that makes it easier and more affordable for households in real need.
It is important to clarify the facts of this transition. First of all, there will not be less housing. Not only will we have the same amount, but the rents will be structured in a way that those with the lowest income pay only what they can afford. In fact, this transition will add up to 2,700 social housing units for people who need them most. This is both a responsible use of taxpayer dollars and a sustainable way to add more safe, quality housing for our most vulnerable citizens.
As we move to one program, no tenants will be required to move. Their rent will change as their circumstances do but, if they want to stay, they can. All current affordable housing tenants will have the option to either transition into social housing, stay in affordable housing, or move into a very healthy private market. Moving to one program is simpler, not more complex and will end up reducing rent for low-income tenants who need it the most.
At the local level, there are endless examples of how service clubs and fraternal organizations have made our communities better places, improving our overall quality of life. That is why I encourage you to nominate a deserving organization for the Premier’s Service Club Award.
The award was launched in 2013 as a way to recognize service clubs and fraternal organizations which are ineligible to receive group recognition under other current provincial honours and awards programs. Up to four awards will be given each year.
Nominations are open until Tuesday, February 17th. For a nomination form and a list of eligible organizations, visit saskatchewan.ca/premierserviceclubaward, e-mail email@example.com or call toll-free 1-877-427-5505.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Ken.
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