Housing plan in the works

Mayor Nicole Read wants Maple Ridge to pursue opportunities

  • May. 5, 2015 2:00 p.m.

Maple Ridge’s Housing Action Plan passed last September, but the action has yet to happen.

Council heard Monday that an implementation plan for the housing plan will be another few months.

The update came at Monday’s meeting as the city tackles the issue via the mayor’s homelessness solutions task force.

“Housing is top of mind,” said Mayor Nicole Read.

She wants to ensure that Maple Ridge applies for any federal funding available under the Housing First program, which focuses on putting money into providing homes first for people instead of trying to treat mental health or drug addiction issues.

“We need to be ready to bring forward projects that fit within the Housing First envelope. I would like us to move fairly quickly to target this.”

The federal government’s shift in policy towards Housing First programs resulted Maple Ridge losing the five overnight beds for teens in trouble when the Iron Horse Youth Safe House closed its nighttime shelter program on Jan. 31. As well, the Alouette Home Start Society had to reduce its complement of street outreach workers from two full-time positions to half a position.

The city, last week, approved hiring four street outreach workers.

Maple Ridge has been working on its Housing Action Plan since 2011 and approved the plan last year. But the specifics that actually will be done awaits the implementation plan, which will take a few more months.

Council heard that if the cost of housing exceeds 30 per cent of income, it becomes unaffordable.

Another factor that could put more people into the streets is the expiry of subsidies for Coop housing projects.

As long-term Canadian Mortgage Housing Corp. mortgages expire on co-op housing, subsidies for maintenance and upkeep of those buildings are also expiring, threatening to make housing unaffordable for those on pensions.

Instead of the federal subsidies, the Co‐operative Housing Federation of B.C. wants the provincial government to take over the subsidies so people can stay in their houses.

Read said she wants Maple Ridge to work with Metro Vancouver to ensure all avenues of funding are explored and that the city has to ensure that it maintains its existing stock of affordable housing.

Currently, Maple Ridge has a total of 585 units of non-market housing.

Read noted that while housing costs are cheaper than in Vancouver, transportation costs actually make it more expensive.

 

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