BC: Transitional Housing Gone Wrong?

architect's sketch of temporary supportive housing
Maple Ridge supportive housing at the conceptual stage.

Intimidation, drug dealing, drug use and overdoses, petty crime, breaking and entering — what’s that all about? Well, some might say it’s just the same old Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) neighbours inventing excuses to scare off unwanted incomers.

Except . . .

What happens when the complaints are coming from people who live in ‘low barrier’ transitional housing, which was built for the purpose of getting people who are chronically homeless off the streets and out of tent camps?

Are the recently homeless calling NIMBY on their own compatriots? That’s the story unfolding in Maple Ridge, B.C. — a city on the far eastern edge of greater Vancouver, British Columbia. Royal Crescent temporary housing did move occupants from a homeless tent city into housing.

The story didn’t end there, though. Other chronically homeless folks followed their more fortunate old buddies to their new digs, camping in and around the Royal Crescent grounds in Maple Ridge. Nobody much has been happy with the results.

More sympathetic activists point fingers at the lack of support that was promised but supposedly never arrived for those with chronic mental and physical health problems.

The agency accused of withholding support is applauding a decision by the B.C. government to review the whole mess.

There would seem to be no easy solutions. Maple Ridge City Council would like the whole can of worms to go somewhere, anywhere, else. And with B.C. investing heavily in modular temporary transitional housing1 — here today, gone tomorrow — that possibility actually exists.

Read more at Global News: B.C. orders review of Maple Ridge social housing complex amid ‘serious’ allegations from residents

What is the ‘appropriate’ amount of support for ‘transitional housing? In Maple Ridge, both frustrated tenants and support agency alike expect some kind of vindication and relief from a government ‘review’ process.

The answer on ‘how much is enough’ partly turns on a model that of housing describes a progression of low income housing achievement as follows:

homeless . . . emergency shelter . . . transitional housing . . . social housing . . . affordable rental housing housing . . . affordable home ownership . . . market rental housing . . . market homeownership2

The model sketched above puts a focus on ‘support’ primarily at the first three stages in the progression3. But supports can be necessary at all stages. For example, aging adults and people with disabilities live at every stage in the progression from homelessness to market homeownership. Individuals in both groups may need support.

An example of this narrow interpretation of support appears to come from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). There, an air of crisis surrounds a building — one that superficially reflects the controversy in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

But this is not playing out in the transitional housing stage. Instead it is happening at the social housing stage. Does the local housing authority somehow believe that social housing residents no longer need support? Read more in CITYNEWS: Another trashed hellhole ignored by Housing ACT


  1. Try: Kamloops Can Dodge NIMBY With Temporarily Permanent Transitional Housing For The Homeless
  2. A graphic illustration of this model, as well as an alternative, can be found on page 3 in this link from Ryerson: The Crisis Of Affordable Rental Housing In Toronto
  3. In the homeless stage, the support encourages people to leave the streets. Support at the emergency shelter stage assists people to find and move to housing. At the transitional housing stage, support can include a range of services, including treatment for mental health, physical health and drug use. As well, it can include supports to maintain a tenancy and develop skills to live independently.