The society was started in 1985 by Matthew Brown and another man. Other early members included Phill Dockerill, Mike Nix, Barry G. Low, Steven Roper and Terrance Totzke.
In 1984 the two founding members, who were working for the Salvation Army, realized that there was a need for emergency and temporary housing that was not being met by existing programs in Nanaimo. They felt called by God to step out in faith and provide shelter for those they saw in need.
No. Island Crisis Care Society works in cooperation with many community agencies, including the Salvation Army, but we are not part of that organization.
Island Crisis Care Society is an independent entity with members from a broad spectrum of society. While started by people of faith, ICCS is interested in working with any group that wishes to help us in our work with those in need.
Through housing and outreach programs, ICCS helps people in crisis stabilize and find the support, resources, and services they need to recover and be well. Currently, we run 13 programs across 7 sites where we address the needs of over 250 individuals a day who have experienced or are at risk of homelessness. These include Assisted Living programs that provide specialized ‘stabilization’ supports for clients in substance use or mental health crisis, spaces for Supportive Recovery, Supportive Housing for people not yet quite ready to live independently, Transitional Housing for people who are nearly ready to live independently, and Outreach Support and access to Subsidized Housing for those who are just starting to live independently. We are also developing programs to offer pre-employment and employment skills training for clients who are ready to step forward and contribute in a new way to the wider community.
ICCS receives funding from a variety of governmental agencies and from donations and grants from individuals, churches, and other organizations. Currently we hold contracts to provide emergency shelter services with BC Housing; and crisis stabilization services with the Vancouver Island Health Authority. We recently received grants from Service Canada and the City of Nanaimo. Donations are gratefully received and can be made by visiting our donation page.
The 2020 Point in Homelessness Count conducted by the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition showed that at least 433 people were immediately facing homelessness in Nanaimo, but even as the count was taken Coalition estimates indicated that actual numbers were likely closer to 600, as absolute numbers counted were impacted by COVID restrictions during the actual count, and other unofficial estimates suggest even higher numbers.
City of Nanaimo figures show that 55% of tenants in Nanaimo spend more than 30% of their income on rent, while other households are reported to be spending more than 50% of their income on shelter. This fact drives many to seek other accommodations such as couch surfing, rooming houses and substandard accommodation.
Studies on housing needs and our experience dealing with clients confirm that certain segments of the population are most at risk of becoming homeless. They can include people with challenges of substance use or mental health; people with physical or developmental challenges which limit their adaptability or capacity for change or preclude them from opportunities for success; people with low incomes or those who are unable to find work including youth, low income singles, women or seniors; people whose ethnicity has resulted in their exclusion from opportunities. A common thread through many of the stories we hear is a background of trauma and abuse – hard beginnings that set them back for life.
The story is different for everyone….but sometimes the reasons hit very close to home….
Perhaps you are a young woman. You grew up in a nice home, but then your dad died, and your mom’s new boyfriend hurt you when your mom wasn’t around. So you ran away, and now you are alone and on the street. You are filthy and you smell bad; you have slept on a park bench the last few nights. You haven’t had a shower in….a while, and you are covered in bruises from falling when you were chased off the bench the other night.
Or maybe you are a middle-aged man who lost your job. It wasn’t your fault, they just had layoffs, and you were the one to get cut. But then your rent came due once, and then again, and suddenly you didn’t have anything left to pay it and you were out on the street, with nowhere to go. Once you lost your address and started to look a bit shaggy from living rough, no one would give you another job.
Or maybe you are an older woman. You had a family and a job once, but they are gone now, and your pension couldn’t cover your rent, and now you have nowhere to go…
These stories sound dramatic, but they are all too real, and they are more and more frequent in our community. People have a sudden disaster befall them, and their spiral to the street starts. The once friendly world becomes a frightening place, and rejection becomes the norm.
We meet all of these people in our programs – and work to seek ways to help them move forward towards recovery and opportunity, and a return to community.
Absolutely. We see ourselves as partners with our community in providing care to all, regardless of race, creed, nationality, sex or age. We are always looking for areas not already being addressed by some other group and work diligently to be wise stewards with all gifts we receive. If you would like to donate to our programs please see our donation page at: https://www.islandcrisiscaresociety.ca/donate/ or call our Resource Development department at (778) 441-4227.
We actively seek partnership with individuals, local groups, businesses, churches and community organizations to join us in our efforts to promote a caring society through acts of care for others. If you agree with our Vision and Mission and feel led to be involved in our work you can become a member of our society by filling in our membership form or by obtaining a membership form from ICCS Administration (778)-441-4227. By being a member you agree to lend your support to our efforts, and have an opportunity to vote on important society decisions. If you have questions about the society that are not covered in this “Frequently Asked Questions” section, please contact us and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Even if you do not wish to become a member of our society you can offer real assistance by contributing your financial gifts.