Low in­come earn­ers have more op­tions than re­al­ized

The Drumheller Mail - - SPORTS - mailphoto by Terri Hux­ley Terri Hux­ley mailphoto by Terri Hux­ley

A tight bud­get could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween food and a roof over your head but the Rent Sub­sidy Pro­gram ad­min­is­tered by the Drumheller Hous­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DHA) is de­signed to put low in­come earn­ers at ease re­gard­less of their cur­rent fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

This pro­gram is a sub­sidy paid di­rectly to some­one who has dif­fi­culty pay­ing their bills to help as­sist with their rental costs. “So a lot of it is sin­gle moth­ers with chil­dren or peo­ple who are on so­cial as­sis­tance, just peo­ple who have trou­ble mak­ing that monthly rent pay­ment,” said Cass Hous­ton, of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager work­ing on be­half of DHA. “They can get on to the pro­gram for a one year term and then they would fill out re­newal pa­per­work to get back on the pro­gram again for an­other year.”

The sub­sidy is based on the dif­fer­ence be­tween 30 per cent of a house­hold’s in­come and an agreed upon price. This re­newal is based on a point sys­tem as well as in­come and cur­rent rent. The more points some­one has, the higher they get on the wait­ing list for an avail­able home.

“From there, they are on that plan for a one year term and as long as they bring us in the re­newal pa­per­work and say their in­come isn’t too high where they’re above that thresh­old for it then they can stay on it for an­other one year or if they moved out of the Drumheller Dis­trict then they would be ap­ply­ing [else­where]. If they were mov­ing to Cal­gary, they would have to ap­ply for Cal­gary’s rent sub­sidy pro­gram,” said Hous­ton.

The thresh­old limit was raised from $7,000 to $25,000 at the be­gin­ning of 2018. Any­one who has less than this amount in as­sets is el­i­gi­ble for the pro­gram but ex­cludes peo­ple who own their home or have a mort­gage as the pro­gram is fo­cused on ren­ters.

“They need 32 points to qual­ify for the pro­gram,” be­gan Hous­ton. “They re­ceive points if they have chil­dren, they get points per child that they have. If they pay util­i­ties they re­ceive points. It is based on the sit­u­a­tion of why they are ap­ply­ing so if there was a woman who was flee­ing abuse, she would get points for that sit­u­a­tion or some­body had to move be­cause there was black mold in their rental then they would get points for that sit­u­a­tion so in all those dif­fer­ent ar­eas they can be awarded points and then those points have to add up to at least 32 points to get on to the pro­gram.”

What­ever the per­cent­age a po­ten­tial ap­pli­cant pays for rent equals a cer­tain amount of points that goes to­wards the 32 point cri­te­ria as well. The pro­gram was put in place due to high de­mand as many have trou­ble pro­vid­ing ne­ces­si­ties.

“They wanted the pro­gram to re­lieve some of that stress that peo­ple are un­der,” said Hous­ton. “The gov­ern­ment rec­og­nized the need that peo­ple have and in or­der to help, that was their so­lu­tion to the pro­gram.”

The pro­gram has a lim­ited num­ber of spots which con­stantly fluc­tu­ates as peo­ple come and go. Al­most 50 peo­ple have uti­lized the pro­gram in the Drumheller Dis­trict alone which in­cludes places like Hanna, Three Hills, Drumheller, Hus­sar, Dalum and Delia.

“There is a lot of ap­pre­ci­a­tion when some­one gets on to the pro­gram and it does make you feel good to be able to help peo­ple in some small way,” said Hous­ton.

Ev­ery­one is en­cour­aged to ap­ply. Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tions will be kept on file and re­viewed when a va­cancy is avail­able. The per­son with the high­est need would get this spot.

“It’s very un­for­tu­nate that some peo­ple are in that sit­u­a­tion and it’s great that there is some­thing out there to help them,” said Hous­ton.

The Community Hous­ing Di­rect to Ten­ant Rent Sup­ple­ment Pro­gram is an­other av­enue that peo­ple can take. It is based on 30 per cent of your in­come and th­ese units typ­i­cally have three bed­rooms with the in­tent of a fam­ily tak­ing res­i­dency. Any­one in any pri­vate rental can ap­ply for ei­ther pro­gram, not just those that rent through a spe­cific re­al­tor and each ap­pli­ca­tion is kept con­fi­den­tial.

“We never look down on any­one ap­ply­ing, we just want to be able to help as much as we can,” said Hous­ton.

Any­one in­ter­ested in th­ese pro­grams can call the Drumheller Hous­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion at 403-823-2121. The DHA’s of­fice is lo­cated at 145 3rd Ave West in Drumheller.

“I think they see a big ben­e­fit to it, some­times this pro­gram means the dif­fer­ence be­tween some­body be­ing able to buy food or not,” said Hous­ton. “We have peo­ple when they’re ap­ply­ing tell us their per­sonal sit­u­a­tion and they are us­ing the food bank and they can still barely make ends meet so that means the dif­fer­ence be­tween some­body be­ing able to eat or pay­ing their power bill.”

A row of fam­ily community hous­ing units lo­cated be­hind Ex­tra Foods in Drumheller.

Cass Hous­ton sits at her of­fice desk on Thursday, April 5. Hous­ton is the of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager work­ing on be­half of the Drumheller Hous­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DHA).

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