Attila Devasarhelyi said people appreciate the daily lunches. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

Daily lunch delivered to Maple Ridge tent city

Number has increased from 50 to 80

In addition to a warming tent and washrooms at Anita Place Tent City, B.C. Housing is also providing daily lunch to the 80 or so residents at the homeless camp on 223rd Street.

The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries prepares the lunches, which are delivered by outreach workers with Alouette Addiction Services.

It’s something that’s much appreciated, said a Rick, a tent city resident.

Without a daily meal, people would be worse off than they are, he added.

“It’s great that they bring it down here every day and we appreciate they do that,” said Attila Devasarhelyi.

He’s the new spokesperson for the camp, which he says now has a population of about 100.

The Salvation Army has been preparing the meals, which are delivered by outreach workers at Alouette Addictions Services. Up until April, only 50 lunches were delivered. Now, 80 lunches, either a hot meal or sandwiches, are provided every day.

“There’s a lot more people here now,” said Devasarhelyi.

He’s been living at the camp for two months, but had been living in the bush around Maple Ridge before that.

“My goal is the same as everybody’s – is to find housing.”

Many are just a paycheque away from being homeless, he added.

“If you were thrown out with just the backpack on … what is your next move?”

He’s looking forward to the modular project currently underway on Royal Crescent, where 55 units are to open next September.

He’s already been interviewed for one of the spots and wants to take on a maintenance job at the site, he added.

He’d also like to improve relations between the tent city and the rest of the community. Perhaps camp residents could do temporary or daily work, he added.

“We’re happy to provide them a nutritious meal to eat,” said Darrell Pilgrim, executive-director with the Salvation Army.

He said the Salvation Army, together with the new intensive case management team, continues to find people housing, aided by shelter allowances that help cover the cost of rent.

The ICM team supports people so they can stay in their homes.

But as people find homes, more people become homeless, mainly because of the high cost of rent and housing, Pilgrim said.

Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, which helped organize the camp, said there are about 80 people staying at the camp, some since it opened a year ago. Others come and go.

He said 62 ballots were returned last week when the camp elected its nine-person council.

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