Maple Ridge Should Provide Homes to Anita Place Tent City

Anita Place

Letter of Support for Anita Place Tent City from the Chinatown Action Group. Photo credit: The Volcano Newsletter.

Dear Mayor Read and Maple Ridge City Council,

We are writing to call on you to withdraw your application for court injunction against Anita Place tent city and instead focus on providing 200 units of emergency modular housing to begin ending homelessness in Maple Ridge.

We are writing as members of the Chinatown Action Group, an intergenerational organization of people of Chinese descent who advocate for the right of our low-income communities to remain in their neighbourhoods without fear of displacement. We are compelled to write to you as we have seen the impact of Maple Ridge Council’s actions on shaping political positions and public discourse on the housing crisis and homelessness across the Lower Mainland.

Maple Ridge Council’s decision to pursue a court injunction against Anita Place tent city without providing alternative and appropriate accommodations to its residents is inhumane and will increase danger and harms to homeless people in Maple Ridge. Anita Place is a space that has saved countless lives during the ongoing opioid overdose crisis. Much like Chinatown, Anita Place serves as a place of safety and belonging for low-income people in contrast to the open hostility and violence they face on the streets of Maple Ridge. Although it is not an acceptable substitution for homes, it is a safe space where homeless people can leave their belongings while they go to look for jobs, attend healthcare appointments, find food, or visit with family and friends.

We call on Mayor Read to publicly retract her harmful and irresponsible comments about homeless people at Anita Place tent city. In her comments about Council’s decision to apply for a court injunction, Mayor Read accuses Anita Place residents of being a nuisance because of complaints from neighbours which she legitimizes. There is no statistical basis to these complaints; police records actually show that property crime has plummeted to a 30-year low alongside Anita Place. No one at Anita Place has been charged or convicted for uttering threats, assaulting, or attempting murder against a police or fire officer. An effect of these unsubstantiated claims is that Mayor Read and Maple Ridge Council are legitimizing right wing populist hatred against homeless people, the group of people in our society most vulnerable to death by violence.

We call on you, Mayor and Council, to demonstrate your leadership to the city of Maple Ridge by treating all of your constituents with respect and dignity, regardless of their income. We call on you to fulfill your duties to your constituents by working to provide them with their most basic needs — safe and decent housing.

The historic role of Cities in building social housing has been to buy and provide land where the federal and provincial governments can build and operate social housing. We call on Maple Ridge Council to withdraw your application for a court injunction to break up Anita Place tent city and, instead, to focus your energies and resources on building 200 emergency modular housing units and 200 permanent units of social housing.

Chinatown Action Group 華埠行動小組