The B.C. government has announced that new supportive housing for the homeless is finally coming to Maple Ridge.
It has purchased land on Royal Crescent to build urgently needed, temporary modular homes for people living at the Anita’s Place homeless camp, and it will be staffed 24/7.
In a statement, Housing Minister Selina Robinson says “we cannot pretend homelessness will solve itself or disappear from sight, and sit idly by while people struggle to live for months on end in the snow and the rain.”
She adds, “our government is taking action to quickly and safely move forward with supportive housing for the people who need it most. They can’t wait any longer.”
In January, the province announced funding for new housing options and support programs designed to address the homelessness issue in Maple Ridge.
A public information session will be held on Mar. 15 to inform residents of the plans.
In the meantime, Ivan Drury with the group Alliance Against Displacement says it’s a complicated victory.
Drury, speaking as a representative for residents of the Anita’s Place tent city, says the positive side is that the province is finally spending money on the land for homes.
However, he says the character of the housing isn’t as dignified as they would like.
He says in supportive housing, they would be forced to give up their tenant rights and their autonomy to social workers.
“The people in Anita’s Place tent city are not willing to be moved from a camp where they… manage each other’s lives and support each other to fight back against the structure of poverty and a culture around them that hates them,” Drury said.
“They’re not willing to give that up as an ultimatum to move indoors, to come under the control of social workers.”
Drury says the proposed 55 modular suites set to be built by the fall aren’t enough to house everyone and close the camp entirely.