B.C. Housing wants to provide a mix of both short-term and long-term housing in Maple Ridge, “to provide a rapid response to the growing issue of homelessness.”
It also wants to work with the city and residents and is focused on finding the right place to put such projects, Rajvir Rao, with B.C. Housing, said Monday.
Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, charged last week that B.C. Housing is only intending on providing work-camp-style lodging instead of the more attractive modular housing with self-contained suites planned for Vancouver.
Even then, Drury said, nothing would be ready until spring, leaving residents in the Anita Place Tent City to languish all winter.
Rao said that in order to provide housing as quickly as possible, B.C. Housing is looking at using “temporary, re-purposed modular housing.
“These units are ideal for locations where the housing is intended to be a shorter-term option while more permanent housing is developed, and involve a design that can be developed and installed quickly,” Rao said.
He added that the units will have private washrooms, but won’t have kitchens. Instead, as with other modular housing projects, meals would be provided along with 24/7 staffing and support services.
More details about what’s actually being proposed will be added as part of the public consultation, once B.C. Housing identifies a site in Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge council, though, wants public consultation to take place before a location is identified.
Rao noted that B.C. Housing is still intent on providing a supportive housing complex in Maple Ridge, for which $15 million has already been allocated.
As well, 94 units of affordable housing will be built in partnership with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services. That project includes 20 studio suites, five of which can be rented at $375 a month, the current shelter portion for income assistance for a single person.
“B.C. Housing is working with the society to transition more units to the shelter rate of income assistance to house more vulnerable people,” Rao said.
Meanwhile, B.C. Housing has said thanks, but no thanks to an offer by Ron Jones to provide an 11-acre site in Pitt Meadows for a homeless shelter and supportive housing complex.
Jones, and land owner and developer in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, had offered to lease out his property on the northwest corner of Lougheed Highway and Harris Road, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, as a way to solving the log jam surrounding homelessness in Maple Ridge.
He made the offer because the property wasn’t close to any other residences, while it was still on a major transportation route, and as a way of helping resolve the issue.
“While the Pitt Meadows site is not a viable option for the Maple Right situation, we are actively exploring a number of potential locations, but no firm site has been identified yet,” B.C. Housing said Friday.
Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith said in November that a public meeting was to take place soon on a housing project for Maple Ridge, to provide a place for the people in Anita Place Tent City, located in the downtown.
B.C. Housing was looking at 20 such locations.
Two previous sites identified, one at 21700-block Lougheed Highway, the other at the Quality Inn, now the Econo Lodge, were rejected in 2016 because of public outcry.