Modular, mobile homes can solve Maple Ridge homeless camp

Two-stage process described at Anita Place Tent City

The Alliance Against Displacement wants 100 temporary, modular homes to built at 21375 Lougheed Hwy. – the site that was rejected last year as a location for a homeless shelter and supportive housing.

Preparing the land, moving the modular homes or trailers into that location and setting up independent housing should be able to be done by the fall, said Ivan Drury with the group, as he explained the main condition for the voluntary dispersal of the Anita Place Tent City, Thursday.

Once the temporary modular homes are open, people can vacate tent city, move to the temporary site and allow work to start on 100 units of permanent, supportive housing on the site of the current tent city on St. Anne Avenue and the Haney Bypass.

Drury, several camp residents and DJ Larkin, with the Pivot Legal Society, outlined their proposal at the tent city, following the City of Maple Ridge’s announcement this week that it was cancelling its two days in Supreme Court arguing for a court order to clear the camp.

The cost for the temporary housing site, could be about $8.5 million for 100 units that would be 250-sq. feet in size with their own kitchen and bathroom. Drury said that cost is based on similar modular housing built at Main Street and Terminal Avenue in Vancouver that costs $85,000 per unit.

“When they’re no longer needed, they can be taken and put on another site and re-used,” Dury explained.

Meanwhile, 100 units of permanent social housing can be built for low-income people on the current site of Anita Place. “That housing needs to be funded by all three levels of government” and can be managed by the residents themselves.

“They are the experts in their own community. I think that’s been shown by the way Anita Place has been run with no resources,” Dury said.

The site is already zoned residental, he pointed out. It’s also owned by the city which plans to turn it into a neighbourhood park.

The citizen’s committee appointed by outgoing Liberal MLAs to find a location for a supportive housing complex in Maple Ridge also considered the St. Anne Avenue as a possible location for a homeless shelter but thought the .8-acre site to be too small. The city is planning to turn the property into a neighbourhood park.

BC Housing has already committeed $15 million for housing complex if a site can be found.

But Drury says the treed property is large enough for 100 units. “Absolutely. It’s time for the government to take the bull by the horns and build the homes.”

Maple Ridge said on Wednesday it was temporarily halting its court action after the tent city residents said they would maintain the safety and security of the camp.

The city also wanted assurance that the camp wouldn’t accept more people, said Mayor Nicole Read.

But Drury said more people could still move to the tent city, saying that the camp isn’t the cause of homelessness.

The action comes while the state of B.C.’s government remains uncertain with the Liberals facing a non-confidence vote Thursday afternoon.

“Nothing could be worse than (housing minister) Rich Coleman and the Liberals. Our community has been stung over and over by their false promises,” Dury said.

Christine Bickle, who led the citizens committee appointed by the former Liberal MLAs, said the reasons that the committee considered the 21375 Lougheed Hwy. site unsuitable for a supportive housing complex, that the property is too small, near a creek and daycare, still apply. The city bought that site after it was selected by BC Housing.

Just prior to the announcement, the Pivot Legal Society said it was adding the provincial government into the dispute it has with the City of Maple Ridge over clearing the camp.

Pivot is arguing the provincial government is infringing on constitutional rights by putting lives, liberty and security of people at risk by creating conditions for homelessness.

“If the province steps forward and provides the solutions we need, that may not be necessary,” said Larkin.

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