Portable Housing

About the Portable Housing Benefits

The Portable Housing Benefits (PHB) is a rent subsidy provided to low income individuals with a mental health disability who have an unstable housing situation that is interfering with their progress in treatment and a successful tenancy and positive participation in community life.

Unsustainable housing is:

  • Unsafe
  • Not affordable
  • Impacting negatively on current tenancy
  • Interfering with progress in treatment

The PHB Subsidy is available to Employment and Income Assistance participants who are enrolled based on a mental health disability living in private rental accommodations in Manitoba.

Eligibility for the PHB requires that individuals work actively with mental health agencies that deliver the program on behalf of the Province of Manitoba. The person assigned to the applicant must sign the application on behalf of the agency indicating that they are willing to work with the applicant for the coming year.

The Portable Housing Benefit:

  • Provides up to a $200.00 rental subsidy for adults with a mental health disability receiving Employment and Income Assistance (EIA). The actual amount is calculated by subtracting the EIA amount from the actual rent. If that amount is higher than $200.00, the applicant is expected to make up the difference.
  • Helps ensure sustainable and safe housing for persons with mental health disabilities.
  • Is available to supplement private market rent and is not available to people living in subsidized housing.
  • Is meant to improve housing stability and conditions, meaning that a move resulting from obtaining PHB should be a move towards some improvement in living conditions.
  • Provides a reliable income subsidy stream that can be paid directly to the landlord ensuring reliable and efficient rent collection.

The Portable Housing Benefit (PHB) originated as a pilot project with 300 spots being made available. The project has since been taken off pilot status, meaning that the allotted PHB are to continue if they are needed.

Sara Riel is the recipient of 75 PHB allotments to recruit, screen and administer. Priority is to be given to current eligible Sara Riel clients to help them acquire and maintain sustainable housing. Other agencies responsible for administering the PHB are Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Canadian Mental Health Association.

Eligible applicants are those who are receiving EIA with mental disability. They must also be currently in an unstable housing situation or at risk of unstable housing. To keep receiving the PHB applicants must keep in contact and work with their mental health services provider. They must also alert Sara Riel if they move or their living situation changes in any way.

In-house PHB application forms are available from the PHB Coordinator, Sara Riel Case Manager or Sara Riel Support Worker. The staff member fills out the form with the client. The forms are then vetted through a screening committee and assessed based both on a numerical score system and on the qualitative information provided.

The applicant will be advised by letter if their application is approved or denied. If denied, they can file an appeal with the PHB Coordinator at Sara Riel.

If the applicant is approved it is expected that in most case they will be looking to find a new living situation. It is possible to give the subsidy to someone who wishes to keep their current address provided that aside from prohibitive cost, it is otherwise a safe and suitable home.

If the client needs support finding new accommodations, their Sara Riel Support Worker can help them in their search and completion of applications.

Once the client has secured a new address the PHB Allocation Form needs to be completed. This indicates the new address; the financial and service details as well as they payment arrangements (will the cheque be sent to the service agency, client or landlord). The form and any other pertinent information is then forwarded to PHB offices. Benefit cheques will then begin to arrive monthly. The client’s EIA worker will also be notified.

As part of the PHB clients are eligible for a damage deposit that is the full half of the market rent, not just half of the EIA allotment (EIA Circular #2012-01).

It is expected that on average, PHB recipients will have found new housing within 60-90 days of having been approved for the benefit.

PHB will end when a client is no longer receiving EIA Disability Benefits.


  • Must be enrolled on EIA as a person with mental health disability
  • Must be receiving mental health services from Sara Riel
  • Must have an unstable housing situation that is interfering in treatment and positive participation in the community
  • Must remain engaged in Sara Riel mental health services while receiving the benefit.

If you are interested in receiving services from Sara Riel and in addition, applying to receive PHB,  fill out our service application. If you would like to learn more about our services before applying, attend our service orientation.

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