News Views: No blame

News Views: No dignity

Anita Hauck.

A second homeless camp in two years has been set up in Maple Ridge, which still has two homeless shelters.

One, a low-barrier option operated by RainCity Housing, is to close at the end of May.

Residents are to be offered sleeping accommodations across the street at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, which also operates a shelter, but didn’t have a low-barrier approach when the first homeless camp was established right beside it, off the Haney Bypass on Cliff Avenue, in 2015.

The new camp is just down the bypass, on a fenced lot at the end of St. Anne Avenue. It is proposed to be a park, but homeless have long camped there, and in the area for more than a decade.

The new camp was set up on Tuesday, with help from the Alliance Against Displacement, out of Vancouver, where another camp was set up, both just prior to the provincial election.

The Maple Ridge camp occurred the day after a citizens’ committee established by incumbent Liberal candidates Doug Bing and Marc Dalton announced that a site has been recommended for a $15 million homeless shelter and supportive housing complex, but one won’t be approved until after Tuesday’s vote.

Meanwhile, a member of Maple Ridge council is blaming Bing and Dalton for the establishment of the new camp.

And Bing is blaming council.

The failure of two previous proposed locations for a supportive housing facility was fraught with such blame, as well as petitions and protests, which, if they didn’t start out as political, ended up that way.

The new camp is that, too.

As was the non-announcement by the citizen’s committee.

There is no shortage of blame to go around.

But blaming others not only accomplishes nothing, but avoids the point – which is, we can all do more. Starting with this election, for example, we can be more accountable.

The new tent camp is named after Anita Hauck, an advocate on Cliff Avenue who died after getting trapped in a clothing bin, collecting a jacket and blanket for another homeless person.

Hauck, a former crack addict and mother who volunteered at the Salvation Army for a decade, said while staying at the camp that no one shelter could solve all the issues associated with homelessness. She said overcoming addiction isn’t just dealing with mental health issues. She said when homeless people start realizing they are not worthless, they start to care for others, and others do the same.

She advocated for more shelters, not fewer – and one that helps people on a variety of levels.

She wanted to bring dignity to those who live without homes.

She didn’t blame anybody.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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