Letters: Caring Place needs support

I am greatly discouraged by the news of council’s attempt to de-fund The Caring Place and the similar review of Alouette Heights.

Editor, The News:

Re: City wants Sally Ann out (The News, Aug. 26).

I am greatly discouraged by the news of council’s attempt to de-fund The Caring Place and the similar review of Alouette Heights.

Since the municipal election, hate and anger directed at people experiencing homelessness has dramatically increased. This has created growing tensions on social media, heightened fear and exacerbated the prejudices against The Caring Place and community members living on the street who are in great need.

Politicking aided in creating this public outcry, and now you give this portion of our community what they want – to rid this city of a compassionate organization you claim as the cause of homelessness-related problems.

Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent without consulting a single housing provider in Maple Ridge, the Community Network – of which I am a member – the Housing Table of the network, and without the input of most of our community’s service providers, even while we have sought to offer resources, help and input.

Additionally, decisions and money continue to be spent without the breadth of research required to make full sweeping changes in our service providers.

Despite the claim of transparency, we are left in the dark of your process and your decision making, and you are left in the dark to community collaboration and information from service providers who know our community – housed, sheltered and unsheltered – best.

Every compassionate comment has been countered with a ‘but all of Maple Ridge’s residents must be taken in consideration,’ which has always meant, ‘everyone but those experiencing homelessness.’

Your actions show us that you do not see homelessness as a problem for one experiencing it, but a problem for the greater community to get rid of and clean up.

As the pastor at Open Door Church, and a fully engaged member of this community from multiple perspectives, I implore you to seek additional solutions rather than attempting to de-fund current solutions before new operations, or even a greater community plan are in place.

Open Door is working to be part of the solution in our own long-term ways.

In the meantime, we will support, in every way possible, current solutions, people and organizations offering compassion and love to a rejected people in our community.

Clearly, The Caring Place needs additional community and city support, as the problem is so much greater than its capacity.

Rather than de-funding a service that cannot address the scope of the problem, start addressing our limited post-shelter, mental health and addiction resources, while continuing to add, not remove, more housing options (Housing First, transitional, temporary).

No, The Caring Place doesn’t work for Maple Ridge. It works for people in need – a voice and perspective drastically needed at the Maple Ridge council and resiliency initiative tables.

Bradley Christianson-Barker

pastor, Open Door Church

Maple Ridge