Fraser Health says it’s already doing its part for homeless in Maple Ridge

Mayor called earlier for more health-focused approach to supportive housing

While Maple Ridge council wants a more health-oriented approach to supportive housing and shelters in the city, Fraser Health says it’s already doing a lot.

Council rejected an 85-bed complex at its May 22 meeting, calling for Fraser Health to become more involved.

But the health authority says it’s already a participant in dealing with the issue of homelessness.

“We provide health-care services to residents across our region, including the homeless population, and continue to have ongoing conversations with B.C. Housing and other community partners regarding how we can best deliver services to those who need them,” said Jacqueline Blackwell, with Fraser Health public affairs.

“Not every person who is homeless needs support for a mental health and/or substance-use concern.”

Blackwell said that Maple Ridge has “robust” services to help people with mental health or addiction issues.

Health services, such as assessments, monitoring medication, linkages to treatment, and help accessing primary care, are provided at any location, she added.

Maple Ridge also has its new intensive case management team that connects with people who are mentally ill or addicted and homeless.

An ICM team includes outreach workers, clinicians, nurse practitioners, physicians and psychiatrists.

That team will go to where people are, Blackwell said.

“They also help a person address their substance-use, mental illness, general health and other needs in order to stabilize their lives.”

The City of Maple Ridge said in a news release May 23 that a change in the “service delivery model for shelters and supportive housing is overdue,” and called for model that is “better designed to match the health-care needs of this vulnerable population.”

Mayor Nicole Read said at last week’s meeting that the Burnett Street location would continue to be an issue unless council gets firm controls around the clinical care and the outcomes.

“This clinical care thing, it’s a full-stop deal for me. If you can’t staff this facility with clinical care people that are going to drive outcomes, there’s no way I’m supporting this, especially with the location being as it is, in a much more residential neighbourhood than 21375 Lougheed Hwy., which is disconnected from residential.”

Read also wants contracts to operate such facilities to rest with the Fraser Health, and for them to go through a request for proposals process.

B.C. Housing has since offered to separate the supportive housing and shelter function and to investigate 21375 Lougheed Hwy. as the possible site for supportive housing and instead building affordable housing on the Burnett Street location.

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