GIVEN the urgent need for more supportive housing in Maple Ridge, the Province will move forward with 51 new temporary supportive homes at 11749 Burnett Street for people living at the Anita Place camp and experiencing homelessness in the community.
“Our goal is to quickly get people into housing where they can get the help and support they’ve long been needing, while working to close the camp in a managed way,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on Wednesday. “When we build housing for people who are homeless, the positive impacts don’t end with the people being housed. The benefits extend into the community to the neighbours, businesses, first responders and everyone impacted by the camp.”
Coast Mental Health will be the building operator, providing 24-hour supports for residents who will have self-contained suites with washrooms and kitchenettes. Fraser Health will also provide clinical support services for the residents on an as-needed basis. Other supports include counselling, life skills and employment programming, as well as daily meals.
“We look forward to collaborating with the Province and the City of Maple Ridge to ensure the design and operations of the Burnett site meet the needs of the community,” said Darrell Burnham, CEO, Coast Mental Health. “As the operator of two supportive housing sites in Maple Ridge, we recognize the importance in building homes with support services that encourage healthy and inclusive communities.”
The 51 units and a medical room will provide sufficient space for the 47 people experiencing homelessness who, until recently, were residing at the camp. This number has been confirmed by BC Housing and community partners, and BC Housing staff will work with city staff to ensure the names on the city’s list are all included in the full list.
BC Housing has estimated that it will take approximately five months to complete the new building once construction begins in April.
Robinson has written to the Maple Ridge mayor and council to ask city staff to sit down with BC Housing staff to determine how best to support these people in the community until the housing can be completed. BC Housing will continue to keep the shelter at 22239 Lougheed Highway open until the end of the lease on March 31 to allow time for these conversations.
“We need to put in place a plan to support these people until the homes can be completed,” said Robinson. “Without a plan, we risk leaving desperate people no choice but to create another tent city or to scatter throughout the community, neither of which is in the best interests of either the campers or the community of Maple Ridge as a whole.”
The housing at the provincially owned Burnett Street site will be manufactured by Horizon North and will be based on the modular designs used in Vancouver. This will allow it to be installed at the Burnett site temporarily and then moved to a different location.
In line with the proposal in the city’s social housing plan, Robinson has informed the mayor that BC Housing staff will begin work with the city on the design of the new affordable seniors’ housing to be built at the Burnett site, so that construction can proceed as soon as a permanent home for the supportive housing units has been found.
* BC Housing staff and community partners have identified 47 people experiencing homelessness who were, until recently, living at Anita Place camp.
* BC Housing, along with Fraser Health and the building operator, will host small group dialogue sessions for neighbours, stakeholders and surrounding businesses, as well as an online question-and-answer session for the broader Maple Ridge community. Details and timing for these events will be shared as dates are established.
* Horizon North, a company based in Kamloops, has been selected to manufacture the homes in Maple Ridge. It has successfully delivered a number of modular projects in B.C., supporting local jobs and economies.
* To guide further action on homelessness in B.C., the Province has launched the Office of Homelessness Coordination to move beyond reactive emergency responses to homelessness and toward a co-ordinated, effective approach that prevents people from becoming homeless in the first place.