A former mattress store will serve as the City of Maple Ridge’s temporary homeless shelter.
The city shelter will open in the former Sleep Shop building, on Lougheed Highway, across the street from the Salvation Army Caring Place and Cliff Avenue homeless camp, in October.
The low-barrier shelter – minimal restrictions on who can stay – will have 40 beds and will operate until March 2016, the city announced Wednesday.
“The temporary shelter is a critical component of ending the Cliff Avenue camp,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
B.C. Housing will fund the city shelter.
“We will be working closely with the temporary shelter provider to mitigate any impacts with the immediate neighbourhood,” said Read.
“This is an important transition in our community. We recognize that some citizens have lost confidence in shelters based on the issues surrounding the Salvation Army Caring Place. However, we are confident that a new approach will demonstrate that there are successful ways to deal with homelessness.”
Read added that, in the meantime, the city will increase private security around the Cliff camp on Friday and Saturday evenings and on weekends.
After the camp on Cliff Avenue is disbanded, private security and enhanced RCMP presence will remain in place, until the situation stabilizes, said Read.
“Those residents have been extraordinarily patient as we have moved to this short-term solution. Council wants to acknowledge their strength and ensure that the neighbourhood has a strong voice and confidence that this issue will be behind them.”
She said the long-term plan is for Maple Ridge has a “service provision model that delivers results for the most vulnerable citizens and is accountable to the community at large.
“With our provincial leaders at the table, we will rebuild the service network and restore the confidence of the community that we can deal with the challenges of homelessness.”
The city shelter location follows Monday’s announcement that Maple Ridge council has asked B.C. Housing to cut the $1 million yearly funding it pays the Salvation Army to operate its 25-bed emergency shelter at the Caring Place.
Maple Ridge residents have “lost faith” in that shelter, Read said.
But the Salvation Army claims that at least a quarter of those who stay at the shelter move on to treatment or other services or housing.
The Salvation Army also offers other programs, such as a daily meal program, school lunches and drop-in shower and laundry service.
B.C. Housing said Thursday it will review services in Maple Ridge to find out how they can be improved.
But it also expressed support for the Sally Ann.
“The Salvation Army is British Columbia’s largest provider of emergency shelter spaces and we commend their services to helping those in need, “ B.C. Housing said.
The provincial housing agency said all service providers have to provide regular reporting about client usage and outcomes.
And each service provider has to go through at least one review during the term of their agreement with B.C. Housing.
So far, B.C. Housing hasn’t had any complaints about the Salvation Army shelter in Maple Ridge. “We have performed an operational review on the Salvation Army and it has met all the contractual requirements.”
• For information about the city’s temporary shelter location, contact Kelly Swift, general manager for community development, firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-463-5221.