Applications are now open for tenants who wish to access the one-time Canada Housing Benefit top-up, which will allow eligible individuals to receive an additional $500.
Promised as part of an NDP-backed Liberal affordability plan, a bill became law last month that introduced both this rent increase for low-income Canadians as well as the first federal dental care.
Ahead of the opening of the application portal on December 12, federal officials from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) briefed reporters on how the system will work for Canadians who want to apply.
An important note for those looking to access this tax-free federal assistance is that applications are only being accepted until March 31, 2023.
If you’re a tenant looking for additional assistance, here’s what you need to know.
WHAT IS HOUSING AID?
The Liberals announced the federal government’s one-time $500 increase to the existing Canada Housing Benefit program in the fall, pledging to help those who qualify with the cost of rent as it continues to increase nationwide.
Anchored in the NDP-Liberal deal, the federal government has pledged to see the top-up rolled out in 2022, with the option of renewing it in future years “if cost-of-living issues persist.”
The program is expected to cost $1.2 billion, of which $475 million was included in the 2022 federal budget.
The additional funding was included in the 2022 federal budget, with the government setting aside $475 million for eligible people this year. Now the Liberals say the proposed funding totals $1.2 billion.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
This is a program for low-income renters whose adjusted net income is less than $35,000 for families or $20,000 for individuals who pay at least 30% of their adjusted net income in rent.
Applicants must pay rent for their own principal residence in Canada and must submit their own application.
In order to receive this $500 payment to help cover rent, applicants must confirm that they:
- have filed their 2021 income tax and benefit return;
- Be at least 15 years old on December 1, 2022;
- are a resident of Canada for tax purposes in 2022;
- have their principal residence in Canada on December 1, 2022;
- Have paid the rent for their own accommodation in 2022; and
- Have paid at least 30% of their 2021 adjusted family net income in rent during the 2022 calendar year.
To apply, you do not have to receive other housing benefits, such as the original Canada Housing Benefit, which is co-funded and delivered by provinces and territories.
The federal government estimates that approximately 1.8 million Canadians, including students, will be eligible for this rental assistance.
HOW CAN TENANTS APPLY?
Similar to the approach taken with the Canadian Dental Benefit, the CRA has implemented an attestation-based application process to receive this benefit.
Prospective claimants logging into their CRA “My Account” or using the direct online form to submit a claim should be prepared to provide some basic information. This includes their address, who they paid rent to, and how to contact that person.
For those without access to online systems, the CRA has set up a dedicated line at 1-800-282-8079 with agents who can help callers complete applications over the phone.
If applicants have moved within the last year, they will also be asked to specify how many months they have spent in certain residences.
The CRA strongly recommends signing up for direct deposit as the fastest and easiest way to receive this funding, noting that the estimated wait time for payments is five business days if you are signed up for direct deposit. , while it could take 10 business days to receive a check by mail.
Applicants are urged to retain all relevant documentation to support their application in case the CRA calls them within the next six years to validate their eligibility. This includes tax slips, rental receipts and landlord contact information. Applicants deemed ineligible will be required to reimburse the benefit.
The government is committed that those who receive this assistance will not see a reduction in other income-tested federal benefits they may receive, such as the Canada child benefit and the GST tax credit.
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