2. Portable Housing Benefit
The Housing Benefit is a bold idea that would address a number of issues including:
- Modernizing our income security system
- Improving housing affordability
- Reducing homelessness
- Improving accessibility to good food and nutrition for the poor
- And, like the Ontario Child Benefit, reducing financial barriers in the transition from social assistance to employment.
Low-income tenants who are working and those receiving social assistance would both be eligible. There would be no clawbacks for social assistance recipients.
A housing benefit matters because:
People struggling with hunger cannot reach their full potential. If people can better afford their rent, it will be easier for them to afford food. A housing benefit given to help cover rent costs would help many to be able to both pay their rent and put food on the table, whether they are receiving social assistance or working.
Benefits people receive from social assistance are taken away, or “clawed back” from the next month if extra income is received from employment. This has been shown to create serious barriers for the transition from welfare to work, because people don’t have a chance to get ahead. A housing benefit as proposed would not be subject to clawbacks until higher level of income earned, giving a “hand up”. Help during this transition period to employment enables opportunity, and can enable independence.
People not only need to live somewhere they can afford, but also live near work, schools, and essential services. A housing benefit can allow people to have more of a choice of where they are able to live, as the benefit is paid directly to the tenant. A housing benefit can also recognize that the cost of rent varies across the province, which current benefits do not.