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The Downtown Eastside Residents' Association's building on East Hastings Street in Vancouver. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)
The Downtown Eastside Residents' Association's building on East Hastings Street in Vancouver. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)

DERA and B.C. Housing may appoint temporary receiver-manager Add to ...

Representatives for B.C. Housing and the Downtown Eastside Residents Association are expected to return to court Tuesday with a potential agreement for appointing a temporary receiver-manager for three social housing projects now run by DERA's housing arm.

The compromise, if it takes place, would result in a receiver-manager taking over the management of the projects for an agreed-upon time that would allow DERA and its housing division to obtain legal representation and prepare to discuss the matter further in court.

Lawyers representing B.C. Housing - the provincial housing agency - argued on Monday against a request from DERA to adjourn the hearing for several weeks, saying such a delay would put building residents at risk.

Financial matters are in such disarray that the City of Vancouver has threatened to cut off utility services, and fire inspection services are also close to being suspended, lawyer Roger Watts said.

"These buildings, from a financial standpoint and an operating standpoint, are bleeding to death," Mr. Watts said.

In March, B.C. Housing filed a sweeping lawsuit against DERA and its housing arm that includes allegations of financial mismanagement and operating problems at the low-income housing projects. As part of that action, B.C. Housing is asking the court to appoint a receiver-manager to run three buildings now operated by DERA's housing branch. The lawsuit also names Kim Kerr, who is executive director of both DERA and its housing arm, as a defendant.

In a statement of defence filed last month, Mr. Kerr denied the allegations and claimed the suit was an attempt to punish him for "outspoken advocacy activities."

In court Monday, Mr. Kerr said the financial problems at DERA and its housing branch are the result of the province not providing enough money for the organizations to operate.

"They [B.C. Housing]continue not to provide us with the fund adequate to pay for insurance as a line item in the budget," Mr. Kerr told Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson. "This is the case with a number of line items in the budget. If I don't get the money from B.C. Housing that are required to fund the housing, I find it incredible that they are then able to suggest they don't know where the money is."

Justice Sigurdson turned down DERA's request for an adjournment, but suggested that B.C. Housing and DERA might be able to agree on the appointment of an interim receiver-manger. That step could allow DERA to obtain legal counsel. On Monday, the group was represented by legal counsel, but only on the request for adjournment. After the judge turned down that request, DERA president Elizabeth Kelliher spoke for the group.

If the compromise appointment does not go ahead, B.C. Housing is expected to continue its request to have a receiver-manager appointed indefinitely.

In court Monday, the judge also heard allegations that DERA employees who complained of financial mismanagement were ignored.

 

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