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Evaluation of the Government of Alberta's Direct-to-Tenant Rent Supplement and Identification of Entitlement-based Housing Allowance Options

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The Direct-to-Tenant Rent Supplement (DTRS) is a Government of Alberta housing allowance that is targeted to a broad section of low-income renters in the private market. It subsidizes the full range of the affordability gap, or the difference between actual rent and 30 percent of an eligible household’s gross income. However, the non-entitlement nature only replicates the horizontal inequities of social housing. Furthermore, the program also has vertical inequity issues due to the benefit formula’s indifference to household size. This study searches for an alternative method to define eligibility and allocate benefits within the context of an entitlement-based housing allowances. It is recommended that the provincial government restrict eligibility to low income working-age households with employment earnings. In addition, the program should only subsidize a portion of the affordability gap with benefit generosity adjusted for family size. This policy option demonstrated significant improvements in equity while constraining program costs.
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