Maple Ridge council introduced part of its homelessness solutions strategy this week and it identified a need for low-barrier housing.
Mayor Nicole Read also acknowledged that the city needs to move the campers off Cliff Avenue, next to the Salvation Army shelter, but does not have a plan for that, yet.
Regardless, at least the city, through this new committee, is taking action.
The committee and its many sub-groups have identified the multiple barriers that prevent homeless people from getting off the street – from addiction and mental health issues, as well as affordable forms of housing, people and funding to bridge the gaps.
Similarly, a pilot project in Ottawa, Waterloo and Hamilton mirrors what the Maple Ridge task force is attempting.
The 20,000 Homes campaign is being led by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
Volunteers there talk to those who are living on the street, put names to faces, get to know them, their story, to identify their own personal problems and barriers, and try to help them find homes.
Volunteers and social services staff work together, surveying the homeless, learning everything from medical histories to education levels.
Individuals are then rated who is in most need – the most vulnerable – of housing assistance.
Much was known about those staying in shelters, but less so about the “hidden” homeless – those camping or living in cars, or moving around from place to place.
The campaign identified how resourceful homeless people are – figuring out where to get food and a safe place to sleep, but not how to break the pattern. The campaign aims to help them do that.
We can only hope for the same in Maple Ridge.
The campaign here, much like the one in Ottawa, will follow the federal lead of housing first.
Once people have shelter, other supports can be put in place, even rent supplements, or donations of furniture and clothing.
It’s about making people feel a part of the community.
It’s a start.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News