Renters in West Broadway need help


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/07/2020 (970 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting renters across Manitoba, including in West Broadway, and support from our provincial government is wanting.

Compared to homeowners, tenants face unique risks during this COVID-19-induced economic crisis.

“Renters tend to have lower income and wealth than non-renters”, notes Dr. Jesse Hajer, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Manitoba.

This lower income and wealth means many tenants have less flexibility to access other funding to deal with COVID-19-related job loss. Hajer notes that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a program to defer mortgage payments for homeowners. As well, there is a joint federal and provincial program to help small businesses with rental payments during the crisis.

Hajer says that some provinces, like British Columbia, have support programs for residential tenants. Manitoba, however, does not. This is concerning, as he notes that lower earners were the most likely to lose their jobs in the initial, pandemic-induced layoffs and renters are disproportionately lower income.

“How well renters in a  geographical area fare (in this economic disruption) is related to general population characteristics, like income,” Hajer notes. Tenants in inter-city neighbourhoods, where tenants on average have especially low earnings, are uniquely at risk.

According to the 2016 Census, 92 per cent of West Broadway residents rent their homes. This compares to 35 per cent in Winnipeg overall. As well, a much higher share of people in the neighbourhood make low incomes than in the city at large (47 per cent vs 16 per cent). This suggests West Broadway is a higher risk area for financial strain during this COVID crisis.

The province has taken some action to aid renters in the crisis. In March, they announced a just over one-month freeze of rent increases and non-urgent evictions. This has since been extended to Sept. 30.

While tenants cannot be evicted for reasons other than the “impairment of safety or unlawful activities that pose an immediate health and safety risk,” they still owe back-rent, which can include late fees. Given reduced earnings due to COVID and lower savings, this puts many tenants in a bind.

Hajer believes Manitoba’s Rent Assist program provides a solution. Rent Assist subsidizes a portion of rent for low-income Manitobans, but eligibility is based on earnings from the last tax year. If the program criteria were modified to allow eligibility based on self-declared income this year, the program would provide relief to many with earnings loss and challenges paying this month’s rent.

Dylon Martin is a community correspondent for West Broadway.

Dylon Martin

Dylon Martin
West Broadway community correspondent

Dylon Martin is a community correspondent for West Broadway.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us

The Metro