As a program within Samaritan House, Martha’s Place provides supportive housing to women who are not able to maintain stable housing elsewhere in the community.
Supportive housing is 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.
- Meals: Evening meals are included.
- Supports: Clients have access to support workers, outreach workers, and case management.
Martha’s Place also includes harm reduction and social and community integration.
Harm reduction in this context means that absolute sobriety is not required and a tenant cannot lose housing because of substance use. As well, integrated access to shelter services is available so that if a tenant fails to pay, or destabilize and require more direct support, they can transfer to a shelter bed if one is available.
Clients residing in Martha’s Place have access to an Outreach Worker and the management and executive team through a case planning process. Referrals are made to community and government programs, and the Outreach Worker is available to support individuals who request accompaniment to appointments for moral support, coaching, or other assistance.
Shortly after becoming an all-female shelter on September 1, 2007, Samaritan House began offering supportive housing in addition to emergency shelter. In the fall of 2013, additional renovations were completed to increase the number of supportive units to eight. These eight units were re-named “Martha’s Place” as part of a two-year pilot project developed in partnership with BC Housing.