A provincial fund meant to allow affordable-housing organizations acquire buildings and offer units at below market rents has announced its first project: 290 units over two co-operative housing locations in Coquitlam, B.C.
B.C's Rental Protection Fund was announced in January 2023 as one-time capital grants to non-profit housing organizations that would allow them to purchase properties, upgrade them and protect renters living there over the long-term.
In December, the fund said it had, so far, seen applications from 80 organizations.
On Thursday, B.C. Premier David Eby, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, along with the fund's CEO, Coquitlam's MLA, mayor and others announced the first approved project.
It awarded up to $71 million toward the non-profit Community Land Trust of B.C. that will leverage a total of $125 million to buy two housing co-operatives: the Tri-Branch Co-op, made up of 169 homes at 2860 Packard Ave., and the Garden Court Co-op, made up of 121 homes at 2865 Packard Ave.
"In the midst of a housing crisis, it is critical to preserve these affordable homes for the seniors, families and individuals who have made these co-ops their community," Kahlon said in a release.
The Ministry of Housing says the 41-year land leases at Coquitlam's Tri-Branch and Garden City co-ops expired in October 2022 and the future of residents was at risk with lease payments in arrears and mounting debt.
"Finally a collective sigh of relief," said Katie Maslechko, CEO of the Rental Protection Fund, about it being able to preserve housing under threat of development.
Mary Raffan, president of Garden Court Housing Co-op said in a provincial release that the co-op board had worked for a decade on a solution to save the housing.
"We can finally have peace, knowing our homes are safe and secure for years to come," she said.
The province said the land trust assessed members' incomes and set new housing charges at no more than 30 per cent of people's incomes.
"This ensures members can continue to afford their housing charges, while ensuring the co-op can cover its operational and maintenance expenses," the province said in a release.
The Rental Protection Fund has approved funding to preserve nearly 700 homes throughout the province that will be announced in the coming months, with thousands of additional homes under funding consideration, it said on Thursday.
Maslechko said the goal of the fund was to secure up to 2,000 units in the future.