Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Black Press Media files)

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Black Press Media files)

LETTER: Maple Ridge needs different agency running homeless housing

Residents have no protections under B.C. tenancy laws if they signed certain agreement, writer says

Dear Editor,

Re: [Former MP running for mayor’s chair, The News, June 24]

My sincerest thanks to Dan Ruimy for announcing his candidacy for mayor in Maple Ridge. He has my vote and my wholehearted support.

When it comes to addressing homelessness in our community, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, the first thing we do, let’s get rid of Coast Mental Health (CMH) as building operator of the three supportive housing buildings in Maple Ridge: Alouette Heights, the Maple Ridge modulars on Royal Crescent and Garibaldi Ridge on Burnett Street.

In March 2017, CMH took over as building operator of the 45-unit Alouette Heights when Alouette Home Start Society told BC Housing it would no longer manage the building.

CMH was subsequently chosen by BC Housing to operate the 51-unit Maple Ridge modulars on Royal Crescent, made from repurposed work camp trailers.

Finally, BC Housing chose CMH to operate the 51-unit modular supportive housing, Garibaldi Ridge, on Burnett Street, effecting the closure of Anita Place Tent City.

The residents of Alouette Heights entered into Residential Tenancy Agreements prior to CMH taking over as building operator, and the initial residents of the Maple Ridge modulars entered into Residential Tenancy Agreements with CMH. The agreements gave tenants the right to apply for dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) if served with an eviction notice by the landlord, in this case, CMH. However, the vast majority of residents entered into Program Agreements with CMH.

The Program Agreement states that, “[t]he Residential Tenancy Act (or successor legislation) does not apply to this agreement,” and residents are referred to as “program participants.” Basically, what this means is that residents have no recourse to appeal an eviction notice rendering CMH omnipotent in such matters. Regardless, I have filed dispute resolution hearing applications with the Residential Tenancy Branch for some of the residents served with eviction notices, and it’s left to the arbitrator to determine the RTB’s jurisdiction to render a decision at the hearing.

The Program Agreement goes on to state that CMH may end the Program Agreement with not less than 30 days written notice in certain instances, not less than 10 days written notice in certain instances, 48 hours written notice in certain instances and less than 24 hours written notice in certain instances.

As program participants, residents who are evicted are also expelled from the “program.” As a result, the evictee is indefinitely banned from entering all three properties and indefinitely disqualified from applying for a unit in one of the other two buildings operated by CMH. This results in the removal of a minimum of 96 units of below market, subsidized housing to which evictees have access, which ultimately results in those who are evicted ending up back out on the streets.

Finally, in an Information Bulletin dated March 8, 2022, David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing, has directed BC Housing to commission an independent review of the Maple Ridge modulars on Royal Crescent. The review will address community concerns about the operations at the building pursuant to a social media post reporting on the significant number of deaths which have occurred in all three of the buildings. Once the review is complete, a report with any recommendations will be released publicly.

In my humble opinion, BC Housing must take immediate action to choose three new operators for the three supportive housing buildings in Maple Ridge and remove CMH as building operator as soon as possible. Instead of addressing homelessness in Maple Ridge, CMH has exacerbated it.

Chris Bossley, Maple Ridge

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• READ MORE: Group operating Maple Ridge housing facilities gets highest accreditation

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affordable housingBC HousingHousing and HomelessnessLetter to the Editor