British Columbia’s Rental Protection Fund Calls for Urgency Following the Unveiling of Canada’s 2024 Federal Budget

Following the Federal Government 2024 budget release, British Columbia's Rental Protection Fund is asking for expedited implementation of the Canada Rental Protection Fund to begin protecting renters at risk today.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 17, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled Canada’s 2024 Federal Budget this week, which included details on the allocation of funds for the $1.5 billion Canada Rental Protection Fund. The Canada Rental Protection Fund, aimed at protecting the remaining affordable housing stock in Canada, was introduced last week as part of the Government’s new Housing Plan. It is modeled after BC’s Rental Protection Fund and its compelling proof of concept in addressing the housing crisis by intervening in the protection of affordable housing to keep life affordable where it is still within reach.

“This starts with better protecting renters from steep rent increases and renovictions,” Freeland stated in the Budget speech. The Canada Rental Protection Fund is one of these key measures and will provide $1 billion in loans and $470 million in contributions to support affordable housing providers to acquire units and preserve rents at a stable level for decades to come. The Fund will be co-led and co-funded by the federal government and other partners, and it is intended to help mobilize investments and financing from the charitable sector, private sector, and other orders of government.

While the federal government’s focus on a nationwide Rental Protection Fund program demonstrates Ottawa’s understanding of the urgency of protecting existing rental homes, the need for a roadmap of the Canada Rental Protection Fund is apparent, and the funding falls short of what is needed to protect renters at risk now. The budget revealed that only $5 million in grant allocations will be made available this year, with no details on the $1 billion in low-cost loans. This model has great potential to mobilize investment from the charitable sector, private sector and other levels of government, but even if that initial grant allocation were to be matched dollar for dollar by both private capital and provincial contributions, only 200 homes could be protected across the country.

“The initial grant allocation will not move the needle in preserving rental property. The federal government has just introduced the most ambitious housing investment in over 50 years, but that investment will not make the impact it needs to if we are losing 10.5 instead of 11 homes for every new home we build,” said Katie Maslechko, CEO of the Rental Protection Fund. “If the Canada Rental Protection Fund is intended to be co-led and co-funded, the budget appears to illustrate a strong desire for it to be co-designed as well. The Rental Protection Fund has laid the foundation for the model to protect and preserve rental, and we look forward to further collaborating with the federal government to demonstrate how this work can be done efficiently and effectively – and that our community housing and private capital partners are ready to do the same.”

In under eight months, nearly 900 homes across 18 different buildings have received funding approval from British Columbia’s Rental Protection Fund. Looking ahead, British Columbia's Rental Protection Fund is poised with 2,000 homes ready for acquisition by pre-qualified community housing providers and more than $200 million in impact investment and philanthropic capital ready to invest in it. The Rental Protection Fund is ready to leverage the Province of BC’s $500 million investment alongside this private capital. Building community assets not only fosters community wealth – and these acquisitions alone would propel the community housing sector by over $500 million.

The details in Canada’s 2024 federal budget mark a crucial step in tackling the housing affordability crisis, but greater urgency and greater allocation of funds are needed to make an impact at a national scale. Renters are at risk today, private capital is ready to play a role, and an expedited launch of the Canada Rental Protection Fund will allow the community housing sector to acquire rental buildings, protecting renters and preserving affordability.

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About The Rental Protection Fund:

Endorsed by the provincial government with a groundbreaking $500 million investment, the Rental Protection Fund is B.C.'s direct response to the housing crisis. Spearheaded by CEO Katie Maslechko, the Fund's core mission is to safeguard tenants and ensure attainable rental homes are available for future generations. It empowers non-profit housing organizations and co-operatives with capital contributions, facilitating the acquisition of existing rental buildings. This initiative aims to sustain housing attainability and stability for B.C.'s renters over time.