Families living on low incomes can now apply for the Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit and receive $300 to $475 a month.
The program, which is a joint effort between the provincial and federal governments as part of the National Housing Strategy, targets households who are renting.
It is aiming to support 6,700 families over the next seven years. The program is expected to cost more than $98.3 million and will be equally shared by the two governments.
"Families with children often have to cope with additional costs for shelter, food, clothing, child care and transportation," said federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen. "These costs can easily become an obstacle to employment or access to better job opportunities."
Hussen, who is responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., was present recently at an announcement for a $1.8M Saint John affordable housing project.
Rents rising fast
The rollout of the benefit comes as tenant rights groups call for controls on rent increases. Rent surged from April to May by 3.9 per cent, marking the highest single monthly increase in nearly 43 years.
The new housing benefit for families provides a short-term benefit for up to three years and was created to help with household expenses related to shelter, food, clothing, childcare, and transportation.
It is also meant to help recipients working part time or at lower-paying jobs to take on more hours or higher-paying work. It is expected that applicants will increase their income over this period to replace the benefit.
The benefit is available to families who meet a number of requirements, including having primary custody of one or more children or dependents with a disability, renting the home they live in, and not receiving a housing subsidy from the Department of Social Development.
Eligible households would be earning between $14,200 and $38,000, under the rules.
After accepting the benefit, applicants who are on the NB Housing waiting list for public housing or a rent supplement will be removed from the list. A review will also be completed each year to determine if the recipient is still eligible for the benefit.
Funding for the program is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once funds have been committed each year, applications will close and reopen in April of the following year.