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Anita Place: 51 temporary housing units coming for those living homeless camp
British Columbia's government has announced it is moving ahead with a project aimed at providing housing for those living at a controversial homeless camp in Maple Ridge.
In statement issued Wednesday, the province said it will build 51 "temporary supportive homes" at 11749 Burnett Street. The units will house 47 people – the same number BC Housing says is living at the "Anita Place" camp.
"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," Housing Minister Selina Robinson said in the statement.
"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."
Kamloops-based Horizon North will build the homes, which will feature self-contained suites with washrooms and kitchenettes.
Coast Mental Health will operate the building, providing around-the-clock support for residents, and Fraser Health will provide clinical supports services for those who need it.
"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, the CEO Coast Mental Health.
According to BC Housing, the project will take roughly five months to complete once construction starts in April.
In the meantime, Robinson has asked Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden and city council to work with BC Housing to work out how to best support those live at Anita Place.
The shelter at 22239 Lougheed Highway will remain open until its lease ends on March 31.
Last week, an evacuation order issued by the city following a string of fires at Anita Place prompted criticism by the housing minister, who encouraged city officials to work with the province to provide house for the those living at the camp.
"We need to put in place a plan to support these people until the homes can be completed," Robinson said Wednesday.
"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."