A fund worth half-a-billion dollars to protect rental buildings has announced its CEO ahead of launching next month.
Katie Maslechko will serve as chief executive officer of the Rental Protection Fund, according to an announcement Tuesday (May 23). The appointment is effective as of April 26.
Premier David Eby announced the rental fund in early January 2023. It allows non-profits to purchase older rental buildings through one-time capital grants in the face of pressure from for-profit-investors purchasing such buildings for re-development.
BC Non-Profit Housing Association, Co-operative Housing Federation B.C. and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association representing non-profit and cooperative housing suppliers have long pushed for this fund and they will oversee it through a separate society.
Leaders in the industry will serve on the society’s board while Maslechko and staff operate the fund.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data, about 97,000 purpose-built rental units in B.C. were either redeveloped or converted to more expensive units, between 1991 and 2021. For every new affordable rental home, three more are lost to conversions, demolition and rent increases according to BCNPHA.
Maslechko said that the fund will create a “ripple effect” by putting money in the hands of the community housing sector.
“Not only will it permanently protect affordable homes, it will also create more equitable access to capital and capacity building – the transformative impact of which we can’t even begin to imagine,” she said.
BCNPHA said Maslechko’s appointment that her hiring represents a “critical step” in getting the fund up and ready, adding that late June remains the fund’s anticipated opening date.
Maslechko comes to the fund as director of development for Vancouver-based real estate developer Beedie, where she oversaw various projects with non-profit housing elements and the new MEC flagship store in Vancouver on Vancouver’s Eastside in the former Olympic village among other projects.
Maslechko, who chairs the Urban Land Institute’s public-private partnership product council, has also worked in New York City delivering facilities for charter schools in under-served neighbourhoods.
In a recent analysis of provincial housing plans, Marc Lee, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said that the fund is not large enough.
“At $500 million, the initial fund is fairly small in comparison to all real estate in BC and the urgent need to protect existing rental stock from predatory landlords and real estate investment trusts,” Lee said.
“Details are still forthcoming about how this fund will work in practice, including the extent to which non-profits need to take on new mortgages for any purchases of rental housing. This policy could be strengthened if non-profits were given a right of first refusal over any sales of rental apartment buildings.”