Feds partner with N.B. government to increase low-income housing benefit

The New Brunswick government and the federal government have announced additional funding and criteria for the low-income housing benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The New Brunswick provincial government has partnered with the federal government to increase the low-income housing benefit to assist an additional 6,700 households over the next seven years.

The announcement was made by Fredericton Liberal MP Jenica Atwin and New Brunswick Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch.

“This will ensure that many hard-working New Brunswickers can have a higher quality of life and will allow more families to keep more money in their pockets,” said Fitch in a news release.

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The announcement expands the limits on the household’s income from $12,000 to $50,000. The original income threshold was $14,000 to $38,000.

Both Atwin and Fitch said this also addresses the social housing waitlist, because it opens doors to allow for rentals. There are about 6,000 families on the waitlist for social housing in New Brunswick, according to Fitch.

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He said the funding and changed criteria doesn’t necessarily mean it will make a dent in that list.

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There are additional criteria for qualification including the individual must live and work in New Brunswick:

  • the individual must be a parent with the primary custody of a child or children under 19 or of one or more dependents with a disability, 19 or older
  • they must rent where they live
  • they do not receive a housing subsidy from the Department of Social Development
  • the income threshold is subject to before tax employment income for all adults over 19 living in the home
  • the income is reported to the Canada Revenue Agency
  • they are the only person in the household applying for and receiving this benefit.

Each household’s amount depends on whether the individual lives in a rural or urban setting and the number of bedrooms, according to the information sheet on Social Development’s website.

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The announcement comes amid a widespread housing crisis in many parts of the country including in New Brunswick.

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The province conducted a 90-day review of the rental landscape in the province. It showed rents had increased in the province in the last 10 years by between 19 and 33 per cent.

At least 31 per cent of the respondents said the rental unit was priced out of their budget. It also reported a lack of affordable houses in the province and that tenants felt unprotected.

Fitch, though, reiterated on Wednesday that the government would not be legislating any rent caps for landlords in the province despite calls to do so amid skyrocketing rents.

The funding is valued at more than $98.3 million, equally shared between the provincial and federal governments.

“We are rebounding in a real positive way,” Atwin said.

“This is just another step to ensure we’re resilient as we emerge from the post-COVID era.”

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