WINDSOR, ONT. -- City of Windsor officials announced Monday a new housing benefit option to help those who qualify pay their housing costs.

In an effort to increase affordability of rental housing, the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) is a joint $1.46-billion federal-provincial housing allowance program providing an income-tested, portable housing benefit payment to low-income households.

The monthly subsidy is intended to assist low-income households. Unlike other forms of housing assistance, the COHB is tied to the person or household, rather than the physical housing unit, allowing the benefit to move with the household.

“Eligible recipients will have more flexibility to choose where they live to be closer to family, social support networks, schools and employment opportunities,” said Debbie Cercone, executive director, Housing and Children’s Services in a news release.

The COHB purpose is to increase the affordability of rental housing for individuals and households in Windsor and Essex County.

Windsor has several programs and services for individuals and families, who need help obtaining and retaining affordable housing.

“The addition of this portable housing benefit has the ability to assist a person or a family in their pursuit to attain affordable housing for which there is significant need in Windsor Essex,” said Jolayne Susko, coordinator of Housing Administration & Policy.

Based on the Canadian Rental Housing Index, people in Windsor-Essex spend 24 per cent of their income on rent and utilities, 44 per cent of the households are spending over 30 per cent of their income on rent and utilities, while eight per cent of renter households live in overcrowded conditions.

The COHB is designed to help increase affordability of rental housing for eligible households that are on social housing waiting lists.

Approved applicants under this program must consent to be removed from social housing wait lists.

The COHB aligns with goal one of the Windsor Essex 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Master Plan to “sustain and expand social and affordable housing supply” in Windsor Essex.