Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Taxpayer Watchdog Wants Audit after High-Income Earners Found in Social Housing

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Taxpayer Watchdog Wants Audit after High-Income Earners Found in Social Housing

Article excerpt

Group uncovers high earners in social housing

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CALGARY - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it has discovered a person making $112,000 a year living in subsidized housing in northern Alberta.

The federation says it's also found other cases where medium- to high-income earners were given housing intended for the poor by the Heart River Housing Agency.

"When you're at $112,000 a year you might not be Mr. Burns, but you are not in need of social housing," said Alberta director Derek Fildebrandt, referencing the rich character in the television show "The Simpsons."

Heart River Housing has its headquarters in High Prairie, about 360 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

The taxpayers federation used access-to-information laws to obtain the information.

Fildebrandt said the $112,000 earner was paying $725 a month for a three-bedroom place in 2012. The person has been there for 12 years.

He said another person earning more than $82,000 also received subsidized housing, along with seven others with incomes between $46,800 and $56,000.

"If you're making between $47,000 and $56,000 a year, you're not rich but you're not in need of social housing. I think a lot of people will be surprised at $56,000 you can potentially land yourself social housing," said Fildebrandt.

A request for comment from Heart River Housing was not returned Thursday.

The agency's website says "family housing units are available for households of modest means." It says rent includes utilities and is based on 30 per cent of gross total household income. Household incomes and circumstances are to be reviewed annually to determine continued eligibility.

The taxpayers federation says Heart River Housing says that some of the units it manages have vacancies that it cannot fill, so it rents those units to people not in need.

Fildebrandt acknowledges the rules do allow for that. …

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