Lucy Kuptana: Tenant Handbook and Program Updates

Déclarations et discours de ministres

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Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT offers a range of programs and services to meet different housing needs across the NWT. As Housing NWT engaged with stakeholders as part of their Strategic Renewal, Housing NWT recognized that it needs new tools to offer a clear understanding of the role of Housing NWT and the local housing organizations as landlord, and the rights and responsibilities of tenants in our units. Coming out of those conversations and the related recommendations, I am very pleased to announce some of the initiatives that Housing NWT is implementing to support clients across all areas of housing programs.

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT has developed a Tenant Handbook to support tenants in public housing and to increase education and awareness on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. Existing tenants will receive a copy, and new tenants will receive one as part of their check-in. The handbook explains the rights and responsibilities of public housing tenants, landlords, and agents involved in public housing in the NWT under the Residential Tenancies Act and related regulations. The handbook is written in plain language, and covers a wide range of topics such as: moving into a public housing unit; rent and security deposits; care of your unit; safety resources and understanding the processes if a tenant is not compliant with their tenancy agreement.

In addition to the handbook, Housing NWT has created a complementary online tenant education tool for clients to use that will go live in April. This is an interactive learning module that can be used by existing clients but would also be useful for individuals for example, that are on a housing wait list and hope to be a tenant of public housing in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, another outcome of the Housing NWT Renewal was to remove barriers to accessing programs. One good example of this is related to Solutions to Educate People, or STEP courses, these courses were a requirement of applicants to Housing NWT's homeownership programs. Unfortunately, the requirement became a barrier to clients successfully accessing these programs. With Housing NWT removing the requirement for STEP courses we hope to see an uptake of these programs and empower clients to own and operate their own homes.

Another program that has undergone changes to support clients is the Canada-NWT Housing Benefit. The Canada-NWT Housing Benefit, also known as the CNHB program, is a rent subsidy program that is cost shared 50/50 between Canada and Housing NWT. It is designed to help households that pay more than 30% of their income on their rent. Since April 2021, this benefit has provided qualified households with up to $800 per month for rent.

Mr. Speaker, the CNHB program is a great example of how strong partnerships with the federal government can improve the lives of NWT residents. In 2022, this benefit supported 265 NWT households, and is currently accepting new applicants with no wait list. This benefit is making a tangible, positive difference in the lives of residents in the private housing market. A total of $1,017,800 was provided in supports for the 2022-2023 fiscal year supporting clients who had affordability issues and therefore are defined as a client in core housing need. New changes coming to this program include an increase in funding for Survivors of gender-based violence, seniors, and persons with disabilities. There has also been an elimination of the two-year cap on the program, so residents can access this program for as long as they need it.

I am pleased with the improvements that Housing NWT has made to tailor its programs to the needs of people across the NWT, including commitment arising from the Strategic Renewal. As Minister Responsible for Housing NWT, I am looking forward to continuing this work to increase the well-being of individuals and communities by providing fair access to quality housing support for people most in need.

Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker.