B.C. Premier David Eby, along with his housing minister, made the announcement Thursday morning, saying the government’s actions will make a big difference for thousands of renters in communities across the province.
“We know finding an affordable home is challenging,” Eby said. “The long-lasting effects of the pandemic, our growing population, supply chain issues, and labour challenges are all contributing to a very serious housing crisis.”
“We expect the fund to protect renters in thousands of affordable units,” he continued.
A common trend in B.C., and across Canada, the provincial government says, is that older rental housing buildings are being purchased 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,” B.C. Ministry of Housing staff said in a release.
The new Rental Protection Fund will provide one-time capital grants to non-profit housing organizations so they can buy affordable rental buildings and ownership co-operatives listed for sale to protect renters who are living there and who may live there in the future.
A new report from BC Housing showed 2022 had the highest number of new purpose-built rental units on record, a total of 14,546 rental units were registered last year.
That figure represents a 10 per cent increase from 2021. The decade prior, in 2012, BC Housing recorded fewer than 2,000 new rental units.
“Our province is building more rental housing than ever, but we also need to protect what we have,” Ravi Kahlon said, B.C.’s housing minister.
“It’s not acceptable for speculators to be pushing renters out of their homes. By protecting more affordable housing, more people can stay in their homes and neighbourhoods to build a good life in B.C.”
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., and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, according to the province.
Since 2017, the province has funded more than 36,000 affordable new homes that have been completed or are underway for people in B.C.