Low-income Ontarians will soon be able to qualify for a housing subsidy to offset the cost of rent thanks to a new $1.4 billion agreement between the provincial and federal governments.

The Trudeau government first announced the $4 billion Canada Housing Benefit as part of its National Housing Strategy in 2017 but it was contingent on individual deals being reached with the provinces.

The first of those deals, between Queen’s Park and Ottawa, was announced during a press conference in Regent Park on Thursday morning.

Under the terms of that deal, the provincial and federal governments will jointly fund the cost of providing the benefit through 2028.

Officials say that up to 5,200 Ontario households will receive the benefit in the first year of the program with that number expected to rise with time.

“This Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit is a direct benefit that will go to individuals and low income households in housing need,” Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen told reporters. “It is the first direct support for rental housing in generations and it will provide vulnerable groups, like survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking and persons experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, the direct support that they need.”

The federal government has said that the housing benefit will average out to an annual subsidy of about $2,500 a person once implemented across the country, though it is unclear what the maximum any given household could receive.

The benefit will go to households who are already on or are eligible to join waiting lists for social housing as well as those currently living in social housing.

“The benefit can be used to help with the cost of the housing they have now or new housing that they aspire to, housing that is close to family or friends, close to supports, close to transit or where they are working,” Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark told reporters. “We are giving people more flexibility and more choice and it means we can act more quickly to help people who need it most.”

Clark said that when it comes to administering the benefit, the province will work with service managers who are “on the ground in local communities.”

“It is a portable, flexible benefit that will allow each service manager to decide how they are going to deal with it in their local communities,” he said.