Homes not prison camps
A resolution from Anita Place Tent City calling on the Province of British Columbia to bypass Maple Ridge Council and create permanent homes now, emailed to Minister Robinson on March 7, 2019. See the accompanying letter here.
Seizing homeless peoples’ heaters is a punitive, irrational, and cynical way to pursue fire safety that is consistent with the City of Maple Ridge’s punitive, irrational, cynical, hateful approaches to homeless people overall. The immediate result of police repression in the name of fire safety was 3 devastating fires that destroyed the makeshift homes and property of 4 longtime residents of camp.
Without the heaters they have used to stay warm through an unseasonable cold snap, homeless residents have forced to use riskier ways of staying warm. Even worse, in the well known climate of anti-homeless hate in Maple Ridge, the extreme police repression signalled ‘open season’ on the homeless, stamped Ridgeilante hate with government legitimacy, and led to arson attacks on the camp.
We welcome Minister Selina Robinson’s ultimatum that Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden must work with the Province to build homes or the Province will work around him. But to “decamp” Anita Place tent city needs more than temporary modular housing run in an institutional, “supportive” model. We are calling for the Provincial government to intervene, stop the police raids, stop the fires by providing safe heat now, and build homes not prison camps!
Resolution 1: Stop the police raids!
The amount of public money and resources spent on the two-day, 40+ police officer raid on Anita Place tent city could have been spent on providing electricity and safe heat for the residents of the camp. Police and legal repression cannot create fire safety or housing. We are calling on the Province to intervene against the City of Maple Ridge and RCMP’s heavy-handed and punitive police raids and repressive attacks on Anita Place and all homeless communities. We call on the Attorney General to call for the Crown Counsel to drop the 5 remaining charges against those arrested in the absurd police raid on February 24th and dedicate public resources to ending homelessness, not criminalizing and policing the homeless.
Resolution 2: End the fire danger with electricity and safer heat for all!
The Maple Ridge Fire Department’s policy of seizing heaters from the homeless creates greater fire risks because it forces people to improvise and use riskier means of staying warm. We are calling on the Provincial government to provide electricity and safer electric heaters to every tent and structure in Anita Place tent city in order to end the fire danger suffered by homeless people struggling to survive the winter.
Resolution 3: Homes not prison camps!
Homelessness is a crisis in every community throughout British Columbia. Rather than building social housing for all Indigenous peoples – who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness because of the dual impact of colonialism and capitalism – and all working class people, we are witnessing the Provincial government roll out temporary and partial solutions. Supportive housing represents the soft incarceration of homeless people in institutions. Modular housing is a temporary shelter room, not a home. And using court injunctions and police to prison-campify and displace tent cities – in Saanich and Nanaimo in the fall of 2018 and in Maple Ridge today – is managing homeless people in temporary open air shelters until police displacement can sweep them under the rug. We are calling on the Provincial government to create permanent social housing – run under the Residential Tenancy Act in a housing co-op model, not as so-called “supportive” housing – by buying the apartment building being built across from Anita Place on St. Anne Avenue and making its apartments available entirely at welfare/pension rates. We are also calling on the Province to purchase the EconoLodge hotel at 21375 Lougheed Hwy to house people today until the apartment is ready, and for ongoing use as transitional housing.