WINNIPEG - The province says it’s developing a “Rent Bank” to ensure housing is available for vulnerable families. Minister of Families and Accessibility Rochelle Squires says the provincial government is investing $5.6 million so that the Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association can run the program aimed at helping lower-income tenants who are at risk of being evicted or behind on their rent payments. The Rent Bank will help Manitobans who are struggling to afford shelter, and offer interest-free loans to those struggling due to financial hardship.
Squires says the program will be available at offices across the province, and will help prevent homelessness to complement other housing-first initiatives. While the Rent Bank is planned to be offered for two years, the government plans to evaluate whether the province is still in need of the program once the pilot begins to wrap up and data is available on its effectiveness.
The Manitoba government also says it’s offering $12 million in grants to nearly a dozen municipalities to ensure those needing affordable housing don’t fall through the cracks. Investments into Manitoba’s social safety net have been allocated to Brandon, Steinbach, Selkirk, Portage la Prairie, Thompson, Morden, Winkler, Dauphin, Flin Flon, The and Pas, as the regions tackle challenges around the cost of shelter.
Squires says the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Indigenous, single-parent, and low-income families and newcomers particularly hard, and its economic impact hasn’t been limited by geography. The province says its investments into housing initiatives will focus on meeting the needs of the province’s most vulnerable.