Manitoba Rent Assist shelter benefit came from community pressure: New report

July 16, 2019

WINNIPEG— A new paper released today documents some of the organizing history leading up to implementation of the Rent Assist shelter benefit and changes to the program since it was implemented. The report reveals that Rent Assist was the result of a sustained and broad-based grassroots campaign led by Make Poverty History Manitoba.  Highlights from the report will be discussed at the report launch event:

Making Space for Change: The Story of Manitoba’s Rent Assist Benefit
by Josh Brandon and Jesse Hajer
Tuesday July 16, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Crossways in Common
222 Furby St (at Broadway)
Presentation and Question and Answer period to follow

The report found Rent Assist generated a fundamental change in benefits for low-income private market renters in Manitoba. The level of support provided by Rent Assist led to a large increase in the money received to help pay for rent. The approach is one of an income-tested entitlement rather than a ‘program of last resort’ model. 

Rent Assist has been highlighted as a model for overcoming the deficiencies of existing housing benefit programs across Canada while addressing the needs of both social assistance recipients and low income working households.

However since being implemented, the Rent Assist program has been cut, particularly for working poor recipients and those not receiving Employment and Income Assistance. These cuts include increasing the percentage of income paid by recipients from 25 to 30 per cent. The Province of Manitoba hired auditing firm KPMG to perform the Manitoba Fiscal Performance Review, which includes more proposed changes. If implemented, the authors conclude the integrity and robust nature of Rent Assist would be severely curtailed.

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Making Space for Change: The Story of Manitoba’s Rent Assist Benefit is available for download from the CCPA website.

The CCPA is an independent, non-profit charitable research institute founded nationally in 1980 and in Manitoba in 1997.

For more information, please contact Molly McCracken at 204-803-0047 or [email protected]