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Moving into Maple Ridge’s newest government-funded rental housing begins

Critic says this ‘affordable’ housing still has rents out of reach for many
A Cornerstone Landing ribbon cutting event was attended by MLA Bob D’Eith, Community Services executive director Vicki Kipps, director Clive Williams, MLA Lisa Beare, director Gwen O’Connell and property manager Tori Nicholas. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Families, seniors and youth are moving into 94 new rental homes built for people with moderate to low incomes in Maple Ridge, near the Valleyfair Mall.

The province offered $13 million toward the project, which is billed as affordable housing, and provide an annual operating subsidy of $330,000.

“It has been difficult for many people in Maple Ridge to find safe, affordable housing,” said Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, in a press release. “These new rental homes will help a wide range of people with many different backgrounds stay in their community close to loved ones, work, school and services they count on. Many thanks to Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services for partnering with our government to make this project a reality.”

Located at 22772-119 Ave., Cornerstone Landing is a six-storey apartment building. It includes 20 units with supports for youth and adults between 18-25 who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, are precariously housed or are transitioning to independence.

The building has a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes. Monthly rents range from $375 for youth units to $1,700 for a three-bedroom.

Not everyone was impressed with the rents at the facility, and there have been online comments that the rents are still out of reach.

Maple Ridge city councillor Chelsa Meadus, said $1,700 cannot be considered affordable for low-income residents, and the province should do more to make housing in Maple Ridge attainable.

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Meadus, who ran for the B.C. Liberal Party against the NDP’s D’Eith in the last election, said a guideline is housing should cost a maximum of 30 per cent of household income. By that measure, a household would need $68,000 annually to afford $1,700 rent. A full time worker earning minimum wage would make less than half of that.

Meadus allowed that a three-bedroom apartment is unlikely to be found for $1,700 in market housing in the city, but said there are still many households – single moms and low-income couples – in Maple Ridge that can’t afford it. Truly affordable housing would be subsidized, and based on a percentage of household income, she said.

Meadus said if the city were to donate land for an affordable housing project, she would like to see it make a real impact for seniors, single parents and low-income families.

“I haven’t seen anything coming across my desk that’s wowing me,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Searching for three-bedroom units, the website currently listed the top floor of a house for rent in Maple Ridge for $1,700, and there is a basement suite for $1,800. There are limited options across the region.

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services will operate the building and provide youth residents with counselling, advocacy, schooling, life-skills training, and health and wellness supports. At least two staff members will be on site seven days a week.

“We are extremely grateful for the partnership with BC Housing and the opportunity to bring Cornerstone Landing and 94 units of new housing to seniors, youth, individuals and families,” said Vicki Kipps, executive director of community services. “Affordable and appropriate housing is a significant need in the community and Cornerstone Landing is a beautifully designed, centrally located and well-serviced building that will immediately help to improve the lives of each resident.”

“We are really pleased to see Cornerstone Landing completed,” said Mayor Mike Morden. “Not only does the project bring much-needed housing for seniors, families and youth but it also gives our local service provider, Community Services, a wonderful base of operations to continue 50 years of valued work in our city. This project demonstrates what can be achieved when all levels of government collaborate to address gaps in the continuum of safe and affordable housing in our community.”

Residents started moving into their new homes in early April.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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