City homeless shelter still temporary

Those who remain have the largest challenges and need more support.

The clients who remain at the city shelter are the most difficult to house.

The clients who remain at the city shelter are the most difficult to house.

The days are winding down to the March 31 deadline for the closure of Maple Ridge’s temporary homeless shelter on Lougheed Highway.

The shelter, with a capacity of 40, remains on track to close by that date, said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.

Council, on Monday, gets a full update from B.C. Housing and RainCity Housing on the shelter, which opened Oct. 1 in a former mattress store.

“Council hasn’t had any kind of conversation that suggests that date is being extended,” said Read.

The city has made a commitment to the community, which has supported opening the shelter, she added.

“The goal remains to connect those people that are in need to the services and housing they need.

“We’ve got a really good idea of who’s in our community and what their level of acuity is, like what are their needs.”

The temporary shelter, funded by B.C. Housing and operated by RainCity Housing, opened in October for six months to provide a place to go for people who were being moved out of the Cliff Avenue homeless camp behind the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

Read said that B.C. Housing is working on a plan for connecting the remaining residents to housing and support.

She said that as many people as possible have been helped with outreach and rental supplements.

But those remaining need more support.

Kelly Swift, general manager of parks and recreation, said it’s challenging because those remaining in the shelter are the most difficult to house and with the largest challenges.

“It’s unlikely that there will be an easy solution for everybody, but I am optimistic that we’re speaking with the right parties and right partners about those solutions,” she said.

“The reality is they just aren’t all pinned down yet.”

She knows that makes people uncomfortable, possibly fearing the current residents of the shelter could end up on the street.

“I can tell you, there haven’t been any plans made to extend the closure of the shelter.”

Swift said the city now has more information about the needs of the people in the shelter and what they’ll need for housing.

That allows the city to make a better case to the province for health and social services.

Coun. Gordy Robson, though, has his doubts the deadline will be met.

“It’s going to be very challenging for B.C. Housing to live up to its commitment to close that thing in six weeks,” he said.

“And I have not heard of any rational solution.”