2 Year Pilot Project

Samaritan House Pilot Project

In November of 2013 ICCS in partnership with BC Housing began a two year pilot project at Samaritan House. Designed to measure women’s quality of life and other indicators as they take advantage of three possible housing options, the goal of the project is to determine which types of housing best meet the needs of women who access shelter services in Nanaimo.

Housing Type Definitions

Transitional (Mary’s Place) BC Housing defines Transitional Housing as housing from 30 days to 2 or 3 years that includes the provision of support services, on or off-site, to help people move towards independence and self-sufficiency. Transitional housing is often called second-stage housing, and includes housing for women fleeing abuse.

Supportive (Martha’s Place) BC Housing defines Supportive Housing as housing for residents who cannot live independently and who are not expected to become fully self-sufficient. There is no limit on the length of stay. This form of housing provides ongoing supports under a “Housing First” model. It allows people the opportunity to achieve a level of health and stability without the fear of homelessness.

Market (Rent Subsidies) Market Housing is the range of housing options available from private and non-profit providers in the community. These include apartments and other houses and buildings that are rented out to tenants on a month by month basis or as a lease. For the purposes of this project, these may also include a room rented out in a house by a private citizen.

Definition of Barriers to Housing

Barriers can be any obstacles that keep people from obtaining or maintaining housing. In general, however, the designation of “low barrier” refers to programs that do not require abstinence before providing service. The following chart was used in the 2008 document: A Response to Homelessness in Nanaimo: A Housing First Approach Situational Analysis Prepared for City of Nanaimo:

Samaritan House and the programs that occur within it are low barrier. These include the shelter services and Martha’s Place. The city has not distinguished between low and medium barrier, so the following more detailed chart helps clarify where Samaritan House is on the range of possible barriers.

Detailed Chart of Barriers

Housing First

The project follows the “Housing First” philosophy which stresses 5 core principles :

  • No requirement for housing readiness;
  • choice;
  • individualized support;
  • harm reduction;
  • social and community integration.

The Samaritan House Pilot Project incorporates all of these core principles.

No requirement for housing readiness. One of the three options in the study requires no housing readiness (Martha’s Place) and the rent subsidy option does not place any specific restrictions on women other than those stipulated by the landlord.

Choice and Support. There are three options to give clients choice with a variety of levels of support both by ICCS and health authority teams.

Harm Reduction. Harm reduction in this context means “that absolute sobriety is not required (though as part of the spectrum of choices, people may choose ‘abstinence only’ housing) and a tenant cannot lose housing because of substance use.” The low barrier status of Martha’s place insures harm reduction. Harm reduction may exist in market housing environments, but insuring it in these locations is beyond the influence of ICCS.  As well, integrated access to shelter services means that should housing be lost for reasons of failure to pay, or conflict with neighbours, etc. a person is less vulnerable to homelessness and loss of property.

Social and community integration.  Access to a dedicated outreach worker for client’s participating in this project, as well as the advisory involvement of the management and executive team, supports mentoring and real life training in conflict resolution and living with others for those clients residing at Martha’s Place or and Mary’s Place.

Rationale for Options Provided

Below are the reasons behind the options in the pilot project.

Martha’s Place Mary’s Place Rent Subsidies
Observed patterns of behaviour suggest that for a segment of the population low barrier housing with 24 hour shelter-like supports in the South End neighborhood is preferred. Reports from The John Howard Society, Safe Harbour House, as well as results from in-program surveys at Samaritan House strongly support the need for supported substance-free housing. Evidence in cities across the country support a model of providing supports to people in regular market housing. If successful, no further moves would be necessary and permanent housing can be achieved more quickly


The following Outputs and Outcomes are being measured or developed.

Outputs for Pilot Project


Measurement Method of Data Collection and Storage Collection Status as of March 2014
Quality of Life QOL Star Survey,
The Quality of Life Star is being filled out by clients at intake to shelter services, after moving in to a housing option and every month thereafter until discharge from an ICCS program. Tracking has begun. Reporting has not yet begun.
Brief Needs Assessment Brief Needs Assessment Form, Spreadsheet The Brief Needs Assessment form is being filled out at the time of intake to emergency shelter services, after moving in to one of the three housing options, and every other month thereafter until discharge. Tracking and reporting are under development.
Health Change Health Change Indicator Form Upon application for one of the housing options and every 6 months thereafter until discharge. Tracking and reporting under development.
Risk Assessment  ICCS Intake Form Risk Assessments are being done with all client’s applying for housing. At the moment no further assessment of risk is possible because of staffing limitations. Additional funding and development would allow for extra measurements on this outcome.
Individuals Move to Long Term Housing BC Housing Database Analysis and reporting to follow.
Housing Follow-up BC Housing Database Analysis and reporting to follow.
Homeless Status BC Housing Database Analysis and reporting to follow.
Health Profile ICCS and BC Housing Database Analysis and reporting to follow.
Employment obtained BC Housing Database It is unclear if this metric is being recorded consistently. It may not be possible to obtain this measurement because of time limitations.
Change in Factors contributing to homelessness ICCS and BC Housing Database Analysis and reporting to follow.
Time in Housing longer than 3, 6 months BC Housing Database Analysis and reporting to follow.
Groups, training, completed None to date Under Development.
Education begun None to date Under Development.
Education completed None to date Under Development.

For early results compiled in the spring of 2014, see the document below.

If you have questions and comments about this project please contact Violet Hayes Executive Director or Richard Powell Policy and Publications Manager.

Page Last updated: 09 Dec 2014

ii”In the non-profit world, outputs are programs, training, and workshops; outcomes are knowledge transferred and behaviors changed.” – Deborah Mills-Scofield Harvard Business Review. Outputs relate to “what we do.” Outcomes refer to “what difference is