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Province announces changes to RentAid and to the EIA Shelter Allowance

March 6, 2014

The Province of Manitoba's release of budget details today included increases to the Shelter Allowance provided by Employment and Income Assistance (EIA), as well as changes to the RentAid program which is used by EIA recipients and low-income earners.  The new program will be known as Rent Assist:

New Rental Benefit: Budget 2014 launches the new Manitoba Rent Assist program, a new portable financial benefit available to both social assistance recipients and other low-income private renters in Manitoba. Rent Assist will replace the current EIA shelter allowance and RentAid programs with an integrated benefit program available to all household categories, based on income and rent paid. EIA participants, who will automatically qualify for the maximum rate, will see increases between $600 and $840 in their annual shelter benefit amounts. Going forward, the Manitoba government will work with experts and community agencies on a multi-year plan to raise the maximum benefit levels to 75% of Median Market Rent, in a way that meets the needs of families and Manitoba’s growing economy without creating a poverty trap. (page E6)

The 2014 budget also committed to build an incremental new 500 social and 500 affordable housing units over three years.  See Budget Paper E: Reducing Poverty and Promoting Social Inclusion for more details.

The CBC News website reported on the Shelter Allowance changes:

After receiving harsh criticism from the Manitoba Tories over the issue, the NDP announced an increased to rent allowance for people on social assistance.   For years, the rental allowance was stagnant while the cost of renting an apartment in Manitoba rose.

Now, the province plans to increase that amount to 75 per cent of the average cost of renting a space (median market value) over the next several years. That means the current allowance, which is about $430 for a parent of two, will eventually increase to between $700 and $825. 

The province did not provide a timeline for when that increase would be complete though, and this year, the amount is expected to go up by about $50 with a forecast cost of about $20 million to the province.

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