Samaritan House provides emergency and supportive housing to Nanaimo’s most vulnerable women. It is overcrowded with 14 emergency beds and six supported units in an old house build in the late 1800s. The house is over capacity nearly every night because extra mats are put down on the floor for women to sleep on. Still, women are turned away.


Occupancy Rate in December 2017


The Number of Times Women Were Turned Away in 2017


Total Beds Used Last Year

An expansion to Samaritan House is desperately needed.

We  need more room and better facilities to meet the changing mental health and age-related needs of homeless women in our community.

The New Faces of Homelessness.

Agnes, above, and women like her are part of the growing number of women over the age of 50 who are finding themselves homeless. Read Agne’s Story.

Perhaps the most alarming change to the face of poverty in the last 2 years is age. On a weekly basis, Samaritan House welcomes women over 50 who have become homeless, usually for factors beyond their control.

Imagine an older woman, struggling with arthritis or incontinence having to climb to the top of a bunk bed at our shelter, or to lay between the washer and dryer. Or being turned away because of lack of space. She is then forced to find shelter in an unsafe place, where the risk of sexual assault and other forms of trauma add to her already vulnerable state.

 The high cost of rental housing has put a safe apartment beyond the reach of many single out-of-work women.

12% of Nanaimo’s seniors live below the poverty line.

Poverty and homelessness are complex issues and there are many reasons why a person may become homeless. Job loss, injury, addiction, trauma, mental illness, and lack of affordable housing increase a person’s risk of becoming homeless. Many families in our area are already struggling, living only a paycheque away from homelessness.

Nanaimo’s Poverty rate is higher than both the Provincial and National averages.

Health Needs for older women are complex

  • Older women are usually not able to find employment that pays a living wage and are more likely to require supports for a longer time.
  • They often have more complicated physical health issues including pain management, mobility challenges, and facing the emotional and physical trials of chronic and terminal illnesses.
  • Women who have not reached retirement, but who have many of the illnesses of older age, find getting back on their feet more challenging without adequate social services.

Many women at Samaritan House have children who are unable to manage their mother’s complex mental health needs.

Investing in Samaritan House helps so many.

“It would be difficult for me to find women who care more. I am grateful to the nth degree for these services.”

Samaritan House Client

“I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all your help and that I would never of gone anywhere else.”

Samaritan House Client

“I did not feel judged or discriminated against for my need to stay here at all!”

Samaritan House Client

“I finally feel like I have a place I can call home.”

Samaritan House Client

“…I couldn’t have gotten through homelessness without your help. I am sober, happy and grateful.”

Samaritan House Client

“I pray this house continues to grow and recognize just how precious and needful your caring is.”

Samaritan House Client

“Without Samaritan House, I’d be dead or on the streets.”

Samaritan House Client

“Thank you again for saving me from myself and saving my life.”

Samaritan House Client

Samaritan House


A soft place to land, a safe place to grow.

Our staff at Samaritan House are dedicated to creating a safe, warm, welcoming environment and to providing emotional support and empathy at an extremely vulnerable time for the women that come to our doors.

It’s really hard to turn away women who have nowhere else to go.

Samaritan House Support Worker

What Samaritan House Currently Does Well:

Emergency Shelter (14 beds)

Low-Barrier Access

Neither sobriety nor mental health stability are required to receive services. Clients are generally only restricted from access if they become violent or abusive. Clients experiencing a mental health crisis are referred to the hospital or an Island Health outreach team.

Essentials of Life

Bed, bedding, meals, access to showers, hygiene supplies, and clothing are provided.

Professional Support

On-site case management, referrals to community resources and programs. Shelter staff work with health authority outreach workers and nurses to encourage clients to recover from physical, emotional, and psychological setbacks.

Martha’s Place (6 beds, Supportive Recovery)

Supportive Recovery

Defined by BC 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.”

Low-Barrier Access

Neither sobriety nor mental health stability are required to receive services. Clients are generally only restricted from access if they become violent or abusive. Clients experiencing a mental health crisis are referred to the hospital or an Island Health outreach team.

Private Accommodation

Units are private, secure rooms with access to shared washroom facilities.


Evening meals are included.

Professional Support

Clients have access to support workers, outreach workers, and case management.

Imagine what we could do with double the space!


Bedrooms that could be used for shelter or supportive housing.

Access to Services

Meeting rooms so health workers can meet privately with clients.


Environmental design that would increase safety and improve community.


Added space that would include better storage to organize supplies, materials and resources.

Planned Spaces

Thoughtfully planned spaces that will reduce crowding and increase opportunities for learning.

Staff Well-Being

A staff room that will allow employees and volunteers to have a break from the high paced life inside this busy front line facility.

A Therapeutic Community

The improved shelter will do more than provide warmth in the winter, a place to sleep, and a place to eat; it will also influence the people who live and work there with its functionality and aesthetics.

When you change the space, so much more changes.

Donate Now

Help us provide More Room for Hope.