Saskatchewan budget misses opportunity on rental housing assistance
I recently wrote a ‘top 10’ overview blog post about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget. Following on the heels of that, I’ve now written an opinion piece about the budget’s announcement of a phase out a rental assistance program for low-income households.
Points raised in the opinion piece include the following:
-Across Saskatchewan, rental vacancy rates are unusually high right now, making this a good time to provide rental assistance to tenants for use in private units (indeed, right now it’s a so-called renter’s market in Saskatchewan, meaning it’s a relatively good time for tenants to negotiate rental agreements with private landlords).
-Thus, rather than phasing out the program, it would have been sensible to have expanded it.
-Phasing it out will very possibly lead to more homelessness, which in turn may lead lead to higher public costs elsewhere (especially to the health care sector).
Interestingly, just yesterday the Saskatchewan Landlord Association made many of these same points themselves; they like the rental assistance program, as it increases demand for its members’ housing units (many of which are currently sitting empty).
It’s of course also important for government to finance housing owned by non-profit entities. I recently wrote about the importance of a variety of measures to improve housing affordability in the housing chapter of this year’s Alternative Federal Budget.
Meanwhile, the link to my recent opinion piece is here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.