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More seniors now eligible for rent supplements under new changes

By Caitlin Snow Oct 10, 2023 | 2:36 PM

Scazon / CC

More seniors will now be able to have their rent supplemented, with more money going to those who receive the benefit, thanks to changes to the province’s rent supplement program.

The Canadian Mortage and Housing Corportation (CMHC) has changed the criteria for eligibility and formula used for the amount one can receive.

The criteria and formula had both used 95 per cent of the average market rent in the senior’s area rather than the full amount. Now, 100 per cent of the average market rent is used, which means more seniors will qualify and the supplement increases.

“We know many people are struggling to find an affordable place to live and a rent supplement can help with the cost of rent – especially for low-income seniors,” said John Lohr, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “I made a commitment to Nova Scotians to do whatever I can to ensure as many people as possible have access to safe and affordable housing, faster. We are looking at our programs and practices and making changes that will make a difference to Nova Scotians in need.”

This means more than 100 low-income seniors, 58 years or older, could qualify. If you already applied to the program, and did not quality, you must apply again.

The province says there are policy and process changes that should reduce fraud and increase equity. These include providing documents that support proof of income, which will now be required within three months. Other changes include pre-eligibility screening and updating definitions of rent, rooming home, immediate family, household income, residency, overpayment and applicant. All terms used in other government departments.

“Our office sees first-hand the significant impact rent supplements have on low-income individuals and families. It makes the difference between being housed and unhoused; between paying rent or paying for power or food. When our client is approved for that supplement, the relief is immense. Many of our clients are over the age of 58, with fixed-incomes, and at high risk for eviction, so this change is very welcome. It is a positive change for seniors across the province,” Tammy Wohler, managing lawyer, social justice office, Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

Roughly 8,000 households will receive a rent supplement this year, up from 5,000 two years ago.

More information on the rent supplement program is available at: https://housing.novascotia.ca/programs/canada-nova-scotia-targeted-housing-benefit