The provincial government has ordered an independent review of the Royal Crescent temporary supportive housing complex in Maple Ridge.
David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
“The review will address community concerns about operations at the building, which is operated by Coast Mental Health,” said a government press release.
On Monday, The News published a story about a list of dead former residents of Maple Ridge supportive housing that was compiled by Maple Ridge woman Diedra Lucas, with the help of a shelter resident, and posted in social media. It names 12 women and 10 men who died over the past two years, and she said there have been more.
Her post included numerous allegations about the way staff have managed the facility and dealt with health and medical issues of the residents. Many of the details were corroborated by another resident of the housing facility.
Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden also voiced criticism, saying: “It is evident that currently there is inappropriate service provision based on assessed client needs.
“Poor outcomes are avoidable which raises a lot of questions as to why many residents have not progressed, tragically with some passing away living in these facilities,” Morden added.
BC Housing will engage an external consultant to conduct the review, which will examine current practices and seek input for this site from residents, community members, the City of Maple Ridge and Fraser Health. Once the review is complete, a report with any recommendations will be released publicly.
“I wanna cry,” Lucas said when she learned of the review.
“And am so damn proud of all these guys for finally saying something, and trusting that it would be heard. I think you cannot un-see the truth.”
Morden also saw the announcement as good news.
“The city appreciates the prompt response by the minister, and supports the independent review of the service provision record and practices at Royal Crescent,” he said in a statement.
“Our hope is that this review will provide an honest needs assessment to determine appropriate supports required at the new facility. This will ensure the best possible outcomes for the operator, the residents, as well the neighbourhood.
“I know from my conversations with Minister Eby, that he is invested in finding solutions that seek best practices and outcomes to help people with complex care needs. Ordering this review reflects his commitment to obtain a better way to address these challenges.”
Royal Crescent, known as The Mods, is a temporary modular supportive housing building that has provided 53 homes with supports for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness since October 2018. It was an emergency solution to the former encampment at Anita Place.
Unlike the vast majority of the province’s supportive housing, it was not built to operate as supportive housing and was always intended as a temporary, emergency solution, said the government released.
It is scheduled to be replaced by a new permanent building under construction on lots 11685-11695 Fraser St. and 11686 224th St.
“These will be supportive homes that are easier to operate safely and better able to provide care for residents,” said the government release. “Residents are expected to move to the new building this summer.
Once the Royal Crescent site is vacated, BC Housing will explore new affordable rental housing for seniors there.
The government said more information about the consultant selection process and a timeline for the review will be available in the near future.
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