New paper highlights history, creation of Rent Assist program

Grassroots advocacy, sympathetic governments and a changing political landscape led to the creation of Manitoba’s Rent Assist program, according to a new paper.

The document, titled ‘Making Space for Change,’ was organized by community groups and presented by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Tuesday in Winnipeg.

The Rent Assist program has increased both the number of eligible renters and the housing benefit itself. Right now in Manitoba over 30,000 people receive the benefit.

According to paper co-author Josh Brandon understanding the history of Rent Assist is important, especially when changes to the benefit have raised questions about the future of the program.

“The introduction of Rent Assist in 2015 was a huge achievement for anti-poverty advocates. We wanted to document how that took place so that we both can understand that benefit and also to make sure it’s preserved,” he said.

Before the introduction of the Rent Assist program there hadn’t been an increase to welfare benefits for renters in over 20 years.