B.C. Housing plans to close the temporary homeless shelter on Lougheed Highway as of June 30, but the mayor isn’t happy with where some of the residents may end up.
Rental supplements or top ups have been offered to 20 of the 30 or so remaining shelter residents, allowing them to live in suites or apartments.
But the other 10 could end up at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries emergency shelter, which is adopting a low-barrier policy.
Outreach workers from the Salvation Army have been visiting the temporary city shelter, telling the residents there is space available across the street.
The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, formerly the Caring Place, has a 25-bed emergency shelter.
“I’ve not heard that,” Mayor Nicole Read said of moving residents to the Salvation Army.
“I definitely don’t want anyone to move from the shelter to go into a shelter. We’re going into a shelter shuffle.”
Most of the people at the temporary shelter, operated by RainCity Housing, have been living there since the city cleared the Cliff Avenue homeless camp in October.
“They’ve been living in the shelter for nine months. How are they not being housed?” Read said.
Salvation Army executive-director Darrell Pilgrim said that people from the temporary shelter can come to the Ridge Meadows Ministries, from where they can be connected with housing.
“We’re encouraging people from the temporary shelter to come here. It’s something we’re more than willing to do.”
The Salvation Army is converting to a low-barrier shelter, according to B.C. Housing.
Low-barrier can allow people to stay inside during the day, have some storage space, and have more leniency towards drug use.
Pilgrim expects the Salvation Army’s B.C. headquarters will make an announcement soon on the specifics of the new policy on shelters.
He added that the Salvation Army regularly places people into housing, but continues to struggle with the housing crisis in Metro Vancouver.
“The problem is, there is very little housing. I’ve been here eight years. I’ve never seen it this bad,” Pilgrim said.
He learned of a recent bidding war between people who just wanted to rent an apartment.
Outreach workers from Atira Women’s Resource Society will also be visiting the temporary shelter to reach out to women in need of housing and supports.
Read said she knows B.C. Housing is working on finding people homes.
“We expected from the beginning that these people would be connected to housing,” and the health services they need.
Council, in April, wrote to Housing Minister Rich Coleman, asking how the people at the temporary shelter will be housed, after B.C. Housing cancelled plans to convert the Quality Inn in Maple Ridge into a 61-unit supportive housing complex.
The City of Maple Ridge is still waiting to hear from B.C. Housing about the closure of the temporary shelter.
Rajvir Rao of B.C. Housing confirmed that outreach workers from the Salvation Army have visited the temporary shelter.
“We’re working closely with the Salvation Army as they transition to a low-barrier shelter to ensure we are meeting immediate needs of all people who are homeless in Maple Ridge,” he said.
Read is more optimistic now that the Salvation Army is moving to a low-barrier model.
“I think there’s a lesser risk of them hitting the streets from the Salvation Army now that the Salvation Army is low barrier. But the province is not meeting its objective if people cannot be housed after nine months of being in the shelter.”
The temporary shelter was only supposed to be open for six months, closing March 30, to allow the city to provide somewhere for people to go when as it dismantled the Cliff Avenue tent camp.