A supportive housing and emergency shelter facility is proposed for Burnett Street. (Contributed)

News Views: Housing 1st

B.C. Housing will host a public information meeting Monday in Maple Ridge.

B.C. Housing will host a public information meeting Monday in Maple Ridge for its proposed supportive housing and emergency shelter facility on Burnett Street, as well as plans for affordable rental housing and addictions support.

Two rallies against the proposed location have already taken place. A third is planned for Memorial Peace Park on Saturday.

A online petition opposing the location already had 1,300 signatures.

So Monday’s meeting at Haney Presbyterian Church, 11858 – 216th St., might draw a crowd.

Residents can have their questions answered by expert staff from B.C. Housing, Fraser Health, the local intensive case management team and Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

One might be, why there, on Burnett Street, near homes, businesses, schools and seniors housing?

But we know of B.C. Housing’s desire to have such a facility – 40 new supportive homes and relocation of up to 40 shelter beds – close to the downtown and related services.

Another contentious issue will be the service model, which hasn’t been publicly stated yet, as to whether the new facility, to be run by the Salvation Army, will allow drug use inside the building, and if so, how will that affect the surrounding neighbourhood?

The Salvation Army took criticism before the RainCity low-barrier shelter ever opened for its high-barrier approach, meaning some rules are in place.

B.C. Housing then announced in May 2016 that the Salvation Army shelter in Maple Ridge was converting to a low-barrier model, with few requirements for entry.

It would make sense that the Sally Ann would maintain that model when it moves to the new facility.

We can’t think of a more pressing question and look forward to a response.

But it shouldn’t be a choice which model, high or low, is put in place. It should be whichever one is best for the people who will be living there.

Is not the point of supportive housing to have on-site supports and services to residents who cannot live independently?

It seems putting many rules in place appeases others more than they help those in need.

The national strategy is called Housing First.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News