Robson wants answers to housing questions

Concerns regarding operation of Alouette Heights building.

Coun. Gordy Robson.

Coun. Gordy Robson.

While Maple Ridge waits word on what kind of temporary and permanent housing the province will provide, Coun. Gordy Robson is concerned about the supportive housing complex that’s already up and running.

He plans on asking staff to look into the Alouette Heights housing complex, on Brown Avenue and 222nd Street.

Robson says that when Alouette Heights opened in 2012, people were only supposed to stay in the building for a year, as they progressed towards being able to afford market housing.

“They’re supposed to rotate every 12 to 18 months and it’s supposed to be a transition house.”

Residents were also to have to be on a plan to reintegrate them into the mainstream, under 24-hour supervision in the building.

Alouette Heights is operated by the Alouette Home Start Society.

“That was the commitment that we made to the public and the community when we joint-built it with them.”

But Robson says it’s not known how many people are living there permanently.

Specifically, he wants to know what amount of input, if any, the city has in running the complex, and an overview of how it operates.

The 45-unit complex provides studio suites to people trying to move from the street to permanent market housing. B.C. Housing built the complex for about $9 million, while the city donated the land, worth about $1 million.

The building is staffed 24 hours a day by a support worker, who helps residents stay on plans for coping with past addictions or mental health illnesses. Each resident has an individualized support plan with their support worker on entry to the project.

Council is to vote on Robson’s resolutions at an April 30 meeting.

Marika Sandrelli, president of the board of directors of the Alouette Home Start Society, welcomes any discussion.

She said the document that defines how Alouette Heights is run is the memorandum of understanding between the City of Maple Ridge and B.C. Housing. The home start society regularly reports to the city, she added.

Since Alouette Heights opened in 2012, 74 people have been found permanent housing, while 16 tenants have been there since the year it opened.

On average, 48 per cent of its residents stay less than two years before moving on to find their own homes. Alouette Heights also made the residents of Cliff Avenue camp and the temporary homeless camp a priority and now has 11 people from those places.

Another topic to be tackled, if council agrees, is a report outlining the operations of treatment centres in Maple Ridge.

Robson said he knows the city is limited in how much it can influence how treatment centres operate, saying it’s the province’s responsibility. He’s also concerned that after people are discharged from treatment centres or group homes in Maple Ridge, they end up staying in the city. He doesn’t know exactly how many such centres are located here.

Robson is also asking for a report on the Lower Mainland Purpose Society, which distributes free needles to drug users under Fraser Health’s harm-reduction program. He’d rather Alouette Addictions Services offer a different program.

Currently, needles are provided throughout the city by Fraser Health in an attempt to reduce spread of disease when users share the same syringe.

Robson also wants monthly reports on the homeless situation in Maple Ridge.

Coun. Bob Masse said he’d vote in favour of the resolutions when they come back for formal consideration by council.

“Basically just tying up lose ends on things we’ve been discussing for some time.”