B.C. Housing wants Maple Ridge shelter open another nine months

Special meeting Monday in council chambers to discuss housing for homeless.

Residents filled the council chambers Monday for a special meeting on homelessness.

B.C. Housing wants to extend the operation of the temporary homeless shelter on Lougheed Highway a second time, this time for nine months, so it can have more time to find homes for the people remaining there.

The agency made the request in a May 26 letter to the City of Maple Ridge, so it can have time to prepare an alternative, modular housing location, which would be in place for approximately three years.

A location for the latter has yet to be determined, but would house 40 people and be run by RainCity Housing, according to B.C. Housing.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said wants to hear the full presentation and what her colleagues think of the proposal at the special meeting on housing tonight in council chambers.

“I’m really looking forward to the conversation tonight.”

B.C. Housing, Fraser Health, RainCity Housing, the RCMP and Alouette Addictions Services all will be at the meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

Read remains concerned about the length of time people will be housed in shelters.

Some at the temporary shelter have been there since leaving the homeless camp on Cliff Avenue in October.

“They’re going to stay there for another nine months?” Read said.

The offer to create an interim housing complex was made on the assumption Maple Ridge will find a location for permanent, purpose-built supportive housing complex, for which B.C. Housing will fund $15 million.

If the city doesn’t agree on extending the temporary shelter, B.C. Housing would keep trying to find other housing options for the people remaining there.

Initially, the 40-bed temporary shelter, in the old mattress store at 22239 Lougheed Highway, was supposed to close March 31 after being open only for six months, to allow the city to dismantle the tent camp on Cliff Avenue. However, that was extended by three months to June 30, as the province planned to convert the Quality Inn into a temporary supportive housing complex.

The Quality Inn project, though, was cancelled after public outcry, leaving B.C. Housing to find other housing options.

Two weeks ago, B.C. Housing said that the temporary shelter was closing June 30 and that rental supplements had been found for 20 people at shelter. That would have allowed them to move into market housing.

But on Thursday, B.C. Housing said that 28 people still remain in the temporary shelter.

Coun. Bob Masse said he was getting to the point of “extreme frustration” on the issue, pointing out that the City of Burnaby refuses to do anything to address homelessness.

“We really need to look at it regionally,” involving Surrey and Langley, “and get the province to buy in.”

He’s also frustrated at B.C. Housing for proposing solutions, then at the last minute, having those fall through.

His chiropractic business is close to the temporary shelter, so he has been excusing himself from voting on that issue.

Read said that council is unlikely to make any decisions at the meeting.

 

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