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Rental Protection Fund taps 22 non-profits to secure affordable rental units across B.C.

Fund currently has 25 properties across the province under consideration for acquisition, according to the organization’s first report
Roughly 100,000 units renting below $1,500 per month across the province were lost between 2016 and 2021, according to Statistics Canada data. | Chung Chow, BIV

Nearly two dozen non-profit housing providers from across the province have been tapped to receive money through the newly launched Rental Protection Fund.

The 22 non-profits operate or own over 280 buildings with 14,500 affordable units in B.C.

Another 50 applications are being considered, Rental Protection Fund CEO Katie Maslechko said Oct. 31, the day the fund’s first-ever report was released. She added that five applications are coming in weekly.

The non-profits include the Lu’ma Native Housing Society, the New Vista Society, Union Gospel Mission and the Community Land Trust.

“It’s such a special and unique opportunity to really provide housing security,” Maslechko said in an interview.

“Rents in these buildings are substantially below-market [rates] and so those will be secured, and that gap between the market and these rents will also be secured. That will have a much broader impact, but it will have a very immediate impact on each of the renters in those units.”

There are currently 25 properties across the province that are being considered for acquisition by the non-profits, translating into 1,300 units, Maslechko said. The fund would in turn finance those acquisitions.

The fund is considering acquiring 15 properties in the Lower Mainland, which translates into 1,075 units for the region.

The Rental Protection Fund was launched in January 2023 with the aim of protecting affordable rental units from redevelopment, disinvestment, displacement of tenants and rent price increases. This is being driven through $500 million in funding from the province to secure roughly 2,000 units over three years.

B.C. lost about 100,000 units renting below $1,500 per month between 2016 and 2021, according to Statistics Canada data referenced in the report.

In the Lower Mainland, 62 per cent or 175,000 units of affordable rentals are deemed at risk.

The fund delivers its financing through a three-stage process.

Organizations or applicants much first be vetted, properties must then be vetted and a proposal to acquire a property can then be submitted to the fund.

Regarding concerns over accountability with funding, Maslechko said that the process is not structured like a “clean-cut” grant, and will include a legal covenant that comes with the funding.

“When they come forward to stage three, they are bringing forward a whole package. There are three really important parts of that package: their acquisition strategy, tenant management strategy and their asset management strategy. And these are both qualitative and quantitative,” she said.