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New fund will protect thousands of renters in B.C.

January 12, 2023 at 10:49 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

More renters in B.C. will be protected from housing speculators and profiteers through the creation of a new $500-million Rental Protection Fund dedicated to protecting tenants and preserving affordable rental homes for decades.

“Today, we’re taking action to protect renters who found an affordable place to live, but are worried their building will be bought out from underneath them,” said Premier David Eby. “This fund will allow non-profits to secure older rental buildings and protect vulnerable renters from speculators who can drive up rents and evict tenants who have lived there for years. Instead, community non-profits will now be able to work with tenants to make improvements or expand to house more people, and at the same time protect affordable housing.”

Increasingly, in B.C. and across Canada, older rental housing buildings are being bought by speculators and large corporations, such as real-estate investment trusts. Their business model often includes redeveloping properties so they can evict tenants, allowing the trusts to make large profits by either hiking rents or selling the units and taking much-needed rental housing off the market.

The Rental Protection Fund will provide one-time capital grants to non-profit housing organizations so they can purchase affordable residential rental buildings and ownership co-operatives listed for sale to protect the renters who are living there and safeguard those rental units for the longer term. The fund is expected to protect thousands of affordable housing units throughout the province.

A new report from BC Housing shows 2022 had the highest number of new purpose-built rental units on record. A total of 14,546 rental units were registered last year, representing a 10% increase from 2021. In 2012, BC Housing recorded fewer than 2,000 new rental units.

“Our province is building more rental housing than ever, but we must also protect what we have. It’s not acceptable for speculators to be pushing renters out of their homes,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “By protecting more affordable housing, more people can stay in their homes and build a good life in B.C.”

Non-profit organizations will be supported in obtaining private financing so income generated by current rents will sustain the financing and operating costs of the property, minimizing the financial involvement of the Province.

The fund will be managed by an external entity, the Housing Protection Fund Society, consisting of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA), Co-operative Housing Federation B.C. (CHFBC), and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA).

“Everyone deserves to feel secure in their home,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, who was recently appointed as the Premier’s Liaison for Renters. “The failure to build and protect rental housing helped create the crisis we are in today. Our government is taking bold action to ensure everyone in our province has access to housing they can afford.”

The Rental Protection Fund will be operational in the coming months and will be financed prior to March 31, 2023.

Quotes:

Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association –

“The Province of B.C. is leading the way in addressing a critical gap in housing policy – the erosion of affordability in the private rental market. With this investment into the Rental Protection Fund, non-profits will be able to purchase existing rental homes and lock in their affordability forever, providing much-needed relief for existing residents and the generations that follow.”

Thom Armstrong, CEO, Co-operative Housing Federation BC –  

“This is a groundbreaking move by the Province. Slowing the loss of affordable rental homes by taking them out of the market and protecting them forever in the community-housing sector will make life much more affordable for renters everywhere in B.C. This is the best thing the Province could have done to maximize the net impact of the affordable new supply it is already investing in. One hopes that other jurisdictions will follow suit, and the sooner the better.”

Margaret Pfoh, CEO, Aboriginal Housing Management Association –

“This funding will not only help create and preserve some long-term affordability in B.C., it is also an investment that will allow the AHMA to implement some of the pieces of our comprehensive provincial strategy built on 25 years of expertise. Having an Indigenous-led organization at the table as an equal partner with BCNPHA and CHFBC is another key step toward true reconciliation. This announcement speaks volumes to our relationship with the Province and enables us to put collective knowledge into action for the benefit of those who most need housing.”

Quick Facts:

  • Aside from the new construction of rental housing in recent years, the loss of rental stock from redevelopments has made the net number of purpose-built rental units in B.C. comparable to what it was in the early 1990s, while the population has grown by 50%. 
  • According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data, between 1991 and 2021, approximately 97,000 purpose-built rental units in B.C. were either redeveloped or converted to more expensive units.
  • According to the 2021 Census, there were 669,450 rental households in B.C., about one-third of all B.C. households.

Learn More:

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC

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