Council approves workers to help homeless

Four street outreach workers in Maple Ridge for six months

Maple Ridge council approved last week contracts to hire four outreach workers for six months as the city tries to deal with homelessness.

One contract is with Alouette Addiction Services for $74,800 for two street outreach workers. Each will work 30 hours a week. With benefits included, cost to the city will be $40 per hour for each worker.

According to a staff report, Alouette Addictions is the main agency providing street outreach addiction services in Maple Ridge.

Recreation general manager Kelly Swift said the workers will be trained, then get on to the street within a few weeks. They’ll also work with other outreach workers.

As well, each worker will cost the city about $283 a month for cellphone and technology expenses, while auto and insurance expenses will be another $258 a month.

Services provided by two more street outreach workers, from the Canadian Mental Health Association, will be cheaper – $71,315 total.

That agency will provide two outreach workers for six months for $44,284 each.

They’ll work 37.5 hours a week, at $24 and hour, plus $8 more an hour for benefits. Car allowance will be about $250 a month.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said the city is working directly with B.C. Housing and is trying to set up a network of non-profit societies to provide different types of housing.

She said the city is also working with the Alouette Home Start Society, which runs the supportive housing project Alouette Heights.

“Ultimately, this community needs a housing strategy. We have the Housing Action Plan, we need to start executing. We can’t waste any time,” Read said.

She’s had several meetings with homeless people and said there are many needs among those living on the street.

Many just need their own place that they don’t have to share with roommates or others who can lead them back into the drug world, she said.

“They need some space to think.”