The Alberta government has issued more restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19, which has the Lethbridge Housing Authority concerned it could be the final blow to some residents in lower income brackets.
Robin James, the CAO of the Lethbridge Housing Authority, said the pandemic has put people in a position they have maybe never been in before.
“We have quite a concern that people who have been deferring payments through the pandemic waiting for a more of a re-opening to take place, and then us moving back to stage one has created a lot of lost hope in our community.”
Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday that certain health restrictions are being re-introduced across the province amid rising COVID-19 infections and cases of variants of concern. The move returns Alberta to Step 1 of the province’s four-part reopening plan.
As of Friday at noon, indoor dining at restaurants will once again be off the table. Outdoor patios are still allowed to operate at restaurants and bars, and establishments can still offer take-out and delivery.
Social events will also be restricted, with indoor gatherings still being banned and outdoor gatherings capped at 10 people.
Retail store capacity has been reduced once more to 15 per cent f(rom 25 per cent,) and group fitness activities have been banned again.
Performance activities like dancing, singing, playing instruments and acting are also restricted for the time being. Libraries have also been closed “until further notice.”
Councillor Blaine Hyggen is also the past chair of the Lethbridge Housing Authority. He said he wants to ensure residents are not left to choose what essentials they have to go without.
“It’s happening throughout our community and its extremely important that we give a hand to these people and help out these individuals that are struggling,” Hyggen said.
James said there are three main options for home owners and renters to apply for:
City of Lethbridge
- One-time payment of $2,000
- Open to homeowners and renters
- Resident of Lethbridge (Six months or longer)
- Gross household income must be at or lower than “core need income threshold,” which is the maximum amount of income a person could make, based on family size
- One bedroom – $30,000
- Two bedroom – $38,500
- Three bedroom – $43,000
- Four bedroom – $51,500
- Five bedroom – $60,000
- Must show validation of loss of income due to COVID-19
- Must not duplicate other government supports such as Assisted Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Rent Geared to Income Housing (RGI) and other Rent Subsidy Programs
Government of Alberta, Ministry of Seniors and Housing Rent Assistance Benefit
The rent assistance benefit reopened on April 1. Formerly the direct to tenant rent supplement, this long-term benefit will continue to subsidize Albertans with the lowest income across the province.
Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit
This new temporary benefit will provide a modest subsidy to help eligible tenants in Alberta’s seven major centers afford their rent while they stabilize or improve their situation.
“The third program is a new relaunch May 1 through the provincial government,” James said, adding, “Its called ‘temporary rental assistance program’ and its available for those individuals who have been working in the last two years but are just struggling to make ends meet.”
The Lethbridge Housing Authority can also help those who live in nearby communities and encourages anyone in need to reach out.
“There are lots of options available. If you don’t qualify for this, you may qualify for something else. It’s the same application all the way around,” James added.
James said the housing authority also has 800 housing units located around the city and can assist people with a unit that fits their needs.
Anyone looking for information or wanting to access one of the programs can visit www.lethbridgehousing.ca or call 403-329-0556.