Bit by bit, home by home sweet home, alternative accommodations are being lined up for campers on Cliff Avenue.
It will just take a while to get them there.
While street outreach workers have lined up 10 homes for those now in tents behind the Salvation Army Caring Place, another 10 suites will be vacated in Alouette Heights, thanks to rental supplements offered by B.C. Housing.
The supplements are paid to landlords to top up monthly rents so those on income assistance can afford to live in market housing.
“We have been told that they have been asked to identify people who are ready to move out so we can move people off Cliff Avenue,” Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said Wednesday.
“We’re waiting for those spots.”
It’s going to be a slow process, though.
Stephanie Ediger, executive-director with the Alouette Home Start Society, said three people will be moving out from Alouette Heights on Sept. 1.
“We anticipate that we will have 10 tenants moving out in the next several months, but cannot be more precise than that at this point.”
Alouette Heights is a 45-unit supportive housing project on Brown Avenue and 222nd Street that opened in 2012.
Tenants enter a lease agreement under the Residential Tenancy Act and work with support staff to develop an individualized case plan for support services, according to Alouette Heights.
But there’s no maximum length of stay, Ediger said.
Instead, tenants are moving out into the rental market because they want to create space for those stuck on Cliff Avenue.
“We’re not doing this reluctantly at all,” Ediger said. “So we’re playing our role while at the same time making sure the tenants we’re supporting have their needs met as well.”
Read said previously that people were supposed to be at Alouette Heights for limited times, and that 23 people have been in there since it opened.
The relocations are voluntary, Ediger added later.
“The decision whether to move and where they will live when they move will be made by the tenants, who are renting with legal tenancies governed by the residential Tenancy Act, and have rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to make these choices themselves.”
She said that Alouette Heights is operating according to its funding agreement with B.C. Housing and another with Maple Ridge.
“We are not mandated and operationalized to provide time-limited transitional housing, so to measure our agency’s success against expectations for transitional housing is both inaccurate and unfair,” Ediger said.
While three are leaving Alouette Heights on Sept. 1, it will take another three or four months for the remaining seven to relocate.
The rental supplements will be on going, Ediger said, though tenants have to qualify each year in order to receive the assistance.
Meanwhile, work continues on find a location for a temporary shelter that B.C. Housing also will fund, once the city can find a suitable spot.
“We’re working very hard to get that done,” Read said.
“I think we’re going to identify something … I’m hoping this week, if not early next.”
B.C. Housing also has to agree on it then any renovations required have to be done before people are moved in.
Once the city has a location for people on Cliff Avenue, it can get a court injunction, if required, in order to disperse the camp that’s been there since April.