Posted on Apr 22, 2020
NDP CALLS FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR RENTERS AMID COVID-19 CRISIS
The NDP Official Opposition is calling on the UCP government to provide financial support to Albertans who are struggling to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan calls for the UCP to provide rental support of $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents, and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents.
The proposed program is similar to the one recently introduced in British Columbia. Eligible recipients include anyone that has had their income reduced by more than 25 per cent due to COVID-19 and their current rent is more than 30 per cent of their income. It would still apply to anyone currently on a waitlist for rental assistance, receiving Employment Insurance, or on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
“A lot of Albertans are suffering right now,” said Rachel Notley, NDP Official Opposition Leader. “Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs or had wages reduced, and many don’t know how they’ll keep a roof over their heads.
“Throwing people into the streets in the middle of a pandemic because they can’t afford rent will only be detrimental to the health of Albertans and our province. The measures we have put forward will allow Albertans to get through this challenging time and keep them in their homes. This is good for renters, landlords, our economy, and the health of our province.”
According to the Edmonton Social Planning Council, almost 10,000 people in Edmonton were already struggling to pay rent before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, cuts in the UCP’s 2019 budget to the Rental Assistance Program and unprecedented job losses in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and collapse of oil prices have compounded the issue.
"Underfunding has plagued access to rental assistance programs before the days of COVID-19, and nothing less than a full commitment to an emergency rental assistance program to assist those facing housing insecurity is required to remedy this situation as well as the larger housing insecurity problem,” said Susan Morrissey, Executive Director of the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
“The necessary supports would markedly improve one’s own psychological state and quality of life for those in need. Anything less will only imperil the necessary recovery efforts in order to get Alberta’s economy back on track and build a world where everyone can not only survive, but thrive."
Lori Sigurdson, NDP Seniors and Housing Critic, said, “Albertans were already struggling to find affordable housing before the pandemic due to cruel budget cuts by the UCP. The pandemic has only made the situation much worse for thousands of Albertans. Housing is the first line of defence against COVID-19 - funding it is the right thing to do.”
The NDP are also calling on the UCP to extend the eviction ban until July. The UCP announced a ban on evictions for April after an outcry for help from Albertans and repeated calls from the NDP. The ban was announced on March 27, making Alberta the last province to adopt such measures.
“The pandemic is still ongoing and thousands of Albertans still aren’t working. The need for the eviction ban has not gone away. If anything, it’s increased and more must be done to support renters,” said Jon Carson, NDP Critic for Service Alberta.