Between the economic downturn and the pandemic, 2020 has been a tough year for many Calgarians and according to Calgary Housing Company, COVID-19 has made things more difficult for many who were already struggling financially.
Calgary Housing confirmed to Global News it has issued 500 eviction notices for the month of August.
The number of tenants paying their rent late has also jumped up by 40 per cent, according to Calgary Housing.
“We’re seeing the signs of financial distress for people who are renters in two areas,” said Calgary Housing Company President Sarah Woodgate said. “One is with late rent payments and that’s payment for the first of the month being late, and the other is growing rental arrears.
“Tenants are really struggling to pay their rent.”
Woodgate said in addition to those notices, there are another 10 households who are on the brink of being evicted.
She said the non-profit is working with those tenants and all other tenants who are behind in rent payment to support them and find solutions so they don’t have to lose their homes.
“Eviction prevention is a primary focus for Calgary Housing and it has been since the beginning of COVID isolation in March. We work very, very hard with tenants, and we’re working very hard to ensure that no one loses their home,” she said.
“At this point, we have 10 households who are unfortunately moving into enforcement.
“And even though they’re moving into enforcement, we would be working with them to help them get on a payment plan,” Woodgate said.
Also up is the spike in rent arrears.
According to Woodgate, Calgary Housing’s rent arrears are double the normal amount — and the concern is payments could fall even further behind.
“A lot of families are unable to pay basic needs, such as food and rent, and we’re working with them in a number of ways to try to help them.
“However, with income assistance programs ending, we’re very, very concerned about their ability to continue making rent payments and keeping the basic needs met,” she said.
Global News spoke to a tenant who is receiving support from Calgary Housing and is currently living in one of the dozens of buildings it manages. Fortunately, he’s one of the luckier ones and said he is able to pay rent each month.
However, after paying rent, Gebremeskel Gebreyesus said there’s not much else. Gebreyesus said he feels for those who are struggling even more.
“I’m a disabled person, my income is very small, so I still need their (Calgary Housing) support. I always worry about the homeless people, they are people (too). We are all human beings. I was a hard-working guy but then a couple years back, I became sick.”
According to Calgary Housing, eviction prevention is a primary focus. Woodgate said it is concerned about income programs like CERB ending and adding more of a strain to those already struggling.
Calgary Housing Company provides housing options to 25,000 Calgarians. According to the non-profit, about 40 per cent of CHC tenants are people with a working income.
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