09/11/2013 13:43 EDT | Updated 11/11/2013 05:12 EST

Earn under $70K? Government wants to help pay your rent

The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is handing out money to those in need by creating a program to help people who spend at least a third of their monthly income on rent.

The program, known as the Transitional Rent Supplement Program, comes with some conditions. You must be over 19 years of age, and earn less than $70,000 a year in Yellowknife — although the cutoff changes depending on where you live. You must also spend more than 30 per cent of your gross income on rent; mortgages don't qualify.

If that's you, the housing corporation could send a cheque of up to $500 a month to your landlord on your behalf for up to two years.

With the cost of living being as high as it is in Yellowknife, the program could be very helpful to a lot of people. "Rent is a challenge and cost is a challenge, particularly in Yellowknife," says David Stewart, the president of the housing corporation.

Someone earning $60,000 a year renting an apartment for $1,500 a month is paying $18,000 in rent every year. That's 30 per cent of their income going towards rent, so that person would theoretically qualify for the program.

Stewart says the program is designed for people who are in the middle ground — making too much to qualify for low income housing, but not enough to makes ends meet in reality. "It's a [part] of our population that historically hasnt gotten a lot of support," he says.

Few applicants

According to the latest data available, the average annual salary across the Northwest Territories was just over $67,000 last year, before taxes and other deductions.

Surprisingly, the program hasn't had a lot of applicants. So far only 63 people have applied to the program. But Stewart expects at least 600 people in the city qualify.

The program's only been in place for a year, which is why the city is advertising and trying to get the word out that the service is available.

Right now, the program is capped at 150 people. More information on it can be found here.

Tune in the Northbeat tonight to for more on this story.