The second supportive housing complex in Maple Ridge is now open on Burnett Street, the minister of municipal affairs and housing announced Tuesday.
“It’s a great day for Maple Ridge to be able to almost end homelessness in Maple Ridge,” said Darrell Burnham, CEO of Coast Mental Health before beginning a tour of the new facility.
“With the 51 units in this building it will allow people to have a choice to not be on the street,” he continued.
The 51 units, just north of Lougheed Highway, will offer wrap-around services and housing for people who were at Anita Place Tent City. The tent city was evacuated in March because of fire risk with only a five or six people remaining at the tent city on 223rd Street.
Other residents of tent city have been staying at the emergency night shelter, formerly known as the mattress shop, on Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street.
Burnham says that all the residents left at Anita Place will now have a place to live once intake of the new residence begins on Wednesday.
Coast Mental Health will operate the building, named Garibaldi Ridge, and provide 24/7 on-site support to the residents, said a release from housing minister Selina Robinson.
The new three-storey wood-frame building has indoor amenity space, a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge area, laundry, clinical space and storage areas. Supports for residents will include outreach workers, wellness checks, life-skills training, employment programs and referrals to community services and support groups. Residents will be connected to primary health care as well as mental health and addiction recovery services. Coast Mental Health will employ 16 full-time support workers, including an on-site program manager and mental health workers, who will assess residents and provide referrals to Fraser Health Authority and other clinical programming.
At least two staff members will be on-site at all times.
“The opening of this supportive housing provides a real solution to a situation that went on for too long in this community,” said Robinson in the news release.
Josh Hoflin, a current resident of Alouette Heights, who is a type one diabetic with kidney disease, said that having stable housing allows him to focus on his health.
Before getting a place at Alouette Heights, Hoflin said, he was couch surfing and one step away from homelessness.
“Having stable housing and not having to worry about where I might have to sleep along with health conditions, is definitely something that’s helped alleviate a lot of stress for me,” he said adding that the new facility will offer residents peace of mind where so they can focus on themselves and what the underlying conditions are that cause them to be out on the street.
MLA Bob D’Eith said that having a facility like Garibaldi Ridge is critical to Maple Ridge and that it will be filling a real need that’s been obvious in the community for a number of years. Next, he said, will be working with the city to find a permanent site for supportive housing.
“This is about helping people but it is also about helping the community,” said D’Eith at the opening.
“And I know that the community will see a real improvement when Anita Place is resolved, that you have people who are on the street in housing,” he said.
D’Eith said that Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden, and council will be getting a private tour of the facility at noon on Tuesday and a citizens committee tasked with making sure community concerns are taken care of will be meeting for the first time at 3 p.m.
Fifty-three units of supportive housing also opened last October on Royal Crescent.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare, Dominic Flanagan, with BC Housing, Dan Kipper with Fraser Health, were also at the opening.