Those at risk of experiencing homelessness, ageing out of the child welfare system or experiencing other issues such as addictions could soon be eligible for a housing benefit.

Province of Manitoba, End Homelessness Winnipeg, and other organizations are partnering to deliver a Canada-Manitoba Housing Benefit from the Government of Canada.

Over the course of eight years, $154.6 million is being doled out to help three specific populations find secure housing. The population include:

• young adults who are transitioning out of, or have recently aged out of, the child welfare system
• people who are, or are at risk of becoming, homeless
• individuals dealing with mental health or addiction issues and living in designated supportive housing buildings

The aim is to help 17,600 Manitobans afford shelter. Over the course of the eight years. In the 2020-21 timeframe, over $17.5 million will be used from the fund.

“This benefit will help ensure that hundreds of Manitobans experiencing homelessness are able to secure safe and affordable housing,” Lucille Bruce, president and CEO of Homelessness Winnipeg says.

Each of the three groups will have their own criteria and support.

Approximately 370 people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk to be unsheltered and are connected to a community housing support program could be given up to $250 per month to bridge the gap between the province's Rent Assist and the rent amount. The province will be working with End Homelessness Winnipeg to identify needs and deliver the supports.

Around 630 Youth ageing out of the child welfare system, including those who may also receive Employment and Income Assistance or non-EIA Rent Assist, will be eligible for a $250 benefit to make up the difference between the rental assistance and the person's rent. The province expects this number to double to 1,260 in 2021-2022.

“Housing is often barriered for young people. This benefit will remove barriers and help youth improve their housing situation,” Kelly Holmes, executive director, Resource Assistance for Youth says. “This is sorely needed by young people coming out of the child welfare system who typically can’t afford safe and adequate housing.”

Those who qualify will be identified in the upcoming months based on referrals from Manitoba Child and Family Services or community-based agencies.

The third group set to receive aid is those who are battling mental health and addiction issues. New supportive recovery housing projects will be built. The province expects  135 people to be housed with the new builds next year.

Canada-wide, $2 billion is being designated the Canada Housing Benefit over the course of eight years, starting this spring allocated from the federal government. Of those funds, each province and territory is expected to cost-match.