Homelessness is not a choice.

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.

What is most alarming is the changing face of poverty and homelessness in our community. With the growing lack of affordable housing and other social gaps in our area, we are seeing more women over the age of 50 requiring emergency shelter and support.

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

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 down on the only available floor mat 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 situation.

That’s the new reality for women seeking shelter at Samaritan House. And no, it’s not a choice.

The new face of homelessness.

The current need is desperate.

Operating from a century old residential house, Samaritan House is in dire need of updating and expanding. With the rising rate of women accessing the shelter, we have simply run out of space. In January, Samaritan House had 101 turn-aways of women seeking shelter.

Our most pressing challenges:

Bed Availability

We regularly turn women away due to lack of beds.

Mental Health

Mental illness is more prevalent and violence is increasing.

Medical Needs

Older women require more complex medical care.

Family

We need a safer place for women who arrive with their children.

Mobility

Samaritan House is inaccessible for women with disabilities.

Relationships

Due to lack of space, personal development and relationship support remain largely beyond our scope.

More Room for Hope is a $2 million expansion campaign that has been created to draw attention to the critical issues of women experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo. Funds will be used to renovate the current Samaritan House on Nicol Street and expand the facility onto the empty lot we purchased beside the existing house.

With the expansion, Samaritan House, with its three stories, will more than double its current capacity. That means an increase in shelter and supported units, a reduction in over-crowding, and more meeting space to allow health and support workers to work privately with clients. Our goal is to also provide emergency shelter for women and their children who are experiencing homelessness.

This is what we could do with double the space:

Flexibility

Bedrooms that could be used for shelter or supportive housing.

Planned Spaces

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

Safety

Environmental and accessible design that will increase safety and improve community.

Storage

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

Access to Services

Meeting rooms so health workers can meet privately with clients.

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.

The current Samaritan House.
An artist's impression of the updated and expanded Samaritan House.

Hope can’t wait!