Maple Ridge MLAs announce ‘intensive case management team’ for homeless

No location yet for permanent supportive housing facility.

  • Feb. 17, 2017 5:00 p.m.




The provincial government did not announce a permanent location for a supportive housing facility for the homeless in Maple Ridge on Friday, but instead detailed an “intensive case management team.”

The temporary homeless shelter, operated by RainCity in downtown Maple Ridge, is to close on March 31, after twice being extended while B.C. Housing and the city looked for, at least, a temporary location for a supportive housing facility.

Local MLAs Marc Dalton and Doug Bing both turned down two previous proposed locations, one at the Quality Inn and another on a lot along Lougheed Highway near the Maple Ridge cemetery.

Dalton further announced funding for additional 30 overnight shelter spaces at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

The extra spaces will be open for six months.

“We appreciate this opportunity to provide temporary emergency shelter to those who are experiencing the challenges of homelessness,” said Darrell Pilgrim, executive director, Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries. “In an atmosphere of dignity and respect, the Salvation Army will continue to provide vital support and transformational programming that assists individuals as they move toward independence and permanent, stable housing solutions.”

As well, Dalton said the province will provide $50,000 for a new kitchen for Hope for Freedom, an abstinence-based addiction recovery program for homeless men in Maple Ridge.

Bing said the temporary shelter will stop taking in clients and implement a curfew on March 1.

B.C. Housing will be meeting with RainCity, the RCMP and the City of Maple Ridge to discuss implementation of the closure plan.

Maple Ridge Coun. Kiersten Duncan, however, said the city doesn’t support a curfew, that one stigmatizes clients of the shelter as criminals.

“We know for a fact, from the RCMP, that that is not correct.”

She also said the province is just moving clients from the temporary shelter to the Salvation Army.

“They’re not all being housed. It’s not clear. They need to make it clear what’s really happening, and they’re not,” she added.

“What they are doing right now is not in the best interests of the people that are on the streets, dealing with significant mental health and addictions issues. It’s not right. You can’t play politics with those people. They need to be helped.”

The province will further make investments in affordable housing for seniors, families and youth, as well as provide rent subsidies for housing with support in the private rental market.

B.C. Housing and the Fraser Health Authority will partner to create the intensive case management team. They will work with non-profit partners to assist those currently in shelters in Maple Ridge with services provided through the case management team and with rent supplements for more stable housing in the private market.

“ICM is a team-based model of care serving individuals with severe substance use disorder, who may or may not have concurrent disorders or mental illness. These individuals face complex challenges related to health, housing and poverty, and face barriers in accessing existing health or social services,” according to the province.

“Stabilizing people who use drugs is the first step in helping them recover to live a healthy, vibrant life,” said Dr. Victoria Lee, chief medical health officer for Fraser Health.

The province will provide $252,000 for up to 40 rent subsidies for the case team program to ensure access to affordable housing with dedicated supports.

The increased rent subsidies and supports provided by case teams are meant to help at-risk individuals obtain longer-term housing solutions.

The province remains committed to providing $15 million in capital funding towards a permanent shelter or supportive housing program, and will form a community committee to identify an appropriate location.

The province has also committed $11 million for a new development at 11907 – 228th Street, to be operated by the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Community Services Housing Society. That building will provide 80 units of affordable housing for seniors and families.

An additional $1 million has been committed through the Provincial Investment in Affordable Housing Initiative to Iron Horse, a safe house for vulnerable youth that will operate in Maple Ridge.

The province also announced that Coast Mental Health has taken over as the new operator for Alouette Heights, a supportive housing development that provides 46 units of supportive housing.

“Coast Mental Health has been successfully managing supported housing developments for 45 years,” said  Darrell Burnham, CEO for Coast Mental Health. “Today, we operate 14 different supported housing developments across the Lower Mainland. We ensure our tenants have the support they need to thrive as members of inclusive and safe neighborhoods. We look forward to working with the staff and residents of Alouette Heights and contributing to the broader Maple Ridge community.”

As for the city’s property at 21375 Lougheed Highway, discussions will take place between the province and the city on the future uses for the site, such as affordable housing for seniors or families.