The NDP is critical of the SaskParty government’s decision to cut the rental housing supplement. Opposition leader Ryan Meili says the end of the rental housing support program on July 1st will hurt the poor and disabled.
“Despite those high vacancy rates, 7 dollars a month — that’s how much rent has gone down, and certainly not enough to make life more affordable,” Meili said. “When you can’t afford a home, you can’t afford a home, (it) doesn’t matter how many are vacant; some 50-thousand Saskatchewan households continue to struggle to afford adequate housing.”
In response, Social Services minister Paul Merriman says SaskHousing has a huge number of vacancies, and the rental housing support will continue for those who are already receiving it, but new applications won’t be accepted as of July 1st.
“When the rental housing supplement was introduced, the vacancy rate was in and around 4 per cent; that actually dropped down to 1 per cent in 2012 and now it is climbed to 9 per cent,” Merriman said. “That, combined with our federal program that is coming online, and we will continue to work with our federal counterparts; we think this is the right decision.”
Merriman says a new federal program will be available to help those who can’t find affordable housing.