BC’s Rental Protection Fund Announces Acquisition of Casa Mia Apartments by Brightside Community Homes Foundation

Published May 24, 2024

The acquisition will preserve 56 affordable rental units, crucial in addressing the scarcity of below-market rentals in Burnaby.

BURNABY, British Columbia, May 24, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Rental Protection Fund (the Fund) and the Province of British Columbia announce the acquisition of Casa Mia Apartments by Brightside Community Homes Foundation (Brightside) in Burnaby. This announcement marks the transition of 56 affordable rental units located at 7268 Balmoral Street (Casa Mia) in the Edmonds Town Centre neighbourhood into the care of Brightside, one of Metro Vancouver’s longest-standing non-profit housing providers.

“It can be a scary thing for renters to see a for sale sign go up at their affordable rental property that has been their home for many years,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “We created the Rental Protection Fund to safeguard affordable homes, such as Casa Mia in Burnaby, against private investors, potential redevelopments and rent hikes. This is our Homes for People plan in action.”

The Fund has provided a capital contribution of $11.8M towards the acquisition of Casa Mia and a grant of $15,000 per home to support building renewal and renovations. Casa Mia provides rental rates that are 56 per cent below median rents in Burnaby, in addition to providing housing for seniors on fixed incomes. The acquisition plays a vital role in addressing the rental erosion crisis in Burnaby, where the city lost over 1,300 affordable rental units from 2010 to 2021.

“For its residents, there's a bitter irony in watching 'Casa Mia'—a place named 'my home'—go up for sale,” said Katie Maslechko, CEO of the Rental Protection Fund. “Preserving these homes offers immediate security and safeguards crucial housing stock. Through the Rental Protection Fund, thousands of renters across BC can now confidently say — this Province, this community, this building, this is my home.

Casa Mia is located near a transit-oriented development area and is a 10-minute walking distance to Edmonds Skytrain Station, a major rapid-transit node. In addition, the purpose-built rental building is located within the area of the City of Burnaby’s new Edmonds Community Plan.

“It means a great deal for Brightside to be able to protect the affordability of these homes, and to ensure rents remain affordable for the long term,” shares William Azaroff, CEO of Brightside Community Homes Foundation. “The Rental Protection Fund is already making a real and tangible impact as the community housing sector works to mitigate the affordability crisis gripping the province. We are grateful to have one more important tool available to continue growing the number of affordable homes available to communities throughout Metro Vancouver.”

This acquisition aligns with the mission of Brightside Community Homes Foundation, which is to provide affordable homes to those who otherwise struggle with the demands of market housing. Through the ongoing independent redevelopment efforts and the recent acquisition of Casa Mia, Brightside will be adding nearly 550 affordable homes to Metro Vancouver's affordable housing inventory by 2025.

“We are seeing the direct impact of our Rental Protection Fund and Brightside’s commitment to provide affordable housing,” said Raj Chouhan, MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds. “With this purchase, people living in Casa Mia Apartments can continue to live in their homes and benefit from affordable rents for years to come. This is crucial in addressing the affordable housing needs of the community of Burnaby.”

The Province’s $500-million Rental Protection Fund serves as a blueprint for the recently announced Canada Rental Protection Fund. Included in the federal Budget 2024, the $1.5 billion program aims to preserve affordable homes across Canada by equipping non-profit organizations with capital to facilitate the acquisition of existing affordable housing.

Through one-time capital contributions provided by the Fund, nonprofits and housing co-operatives can secure, revitalize, and safeguard current rental units against escalating market rents. The Fund has already approved funding to preserve more than 1,200 homes throughout BC that will be announced in the coming months, with thousands of additional homes under funding consideration.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Kim
Talk Shop Media

About The Rental Protection Fund:
Endorsed by the provincial government with a groundbreaking investment of $500 million, the Rental Protection Fund stands as B.C.'s direct response to the housing crisis. Under the leadership of CEO Katie Maslechko, the Fund is dedicated to protecting tenants and ensuring the availability of affordable rental homes for future generations. By providing capital contributions to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives, it facilitates the acquisition of existing rental buildings. This initiative is committed to maintaining housing affordability and stability for renters in B.C. in the long run.