Following the Good Samaritan’s example, ICCS established Samaritan House as its flagship program 30 years ago, providing women a safe, warm, tolerant environment, emotional support and empathy, shelter, nourishment, hygiene, clothing, on-site case management and referrals to community resources and programs.
Samaritan House was located at 355 Nicol street for 31 years, from 1989 to October 2020. In 2015 an additional location called “Mary’s Place” was added to provide transitional housing for women. Rent subsidies, supported by an Outreach Team are also a part of the services.
After a call to expand Samaritan House starting in 2017, the “More Room for Hope” campaign began to raise support and action for a bigger, better space for more women and men in crisis. Recently, the project took a grand leap ahead. Through a collaboration between BC Housing, the City of Nanaimo and partners, a commitment was made to create up to 300 units of new, affordable and supportive housing – including a new “Samaritan House” that will give space for lots more people. In the meantime, the programme has moved to a temporary site at the Emergency Response Centre in the Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux Street.
Samaritan House will operate at this temporary location until we move again to a new and permanent purpose-built home at 702 Nicol St. with more supportive units and improved safety systems. The property was purchased by BC Housing earlier in 2020 along with 355 Nicol St as part of the announced housing strategy developed between the Province and the City of Nanaimo. The move is planned for the fall of 2021. Ground breaking on the new property occurred on 07 April 2021, and construction commenced in June of this year.
While housed at 285 Prideaux Place 35 beds will be available:
Phase 1 (October 2020):
Phase 2 (November 2020)
Phase 3 (May 2021)
The Samaritan House team continues to be dedicated to creating a safe, warm, welcoming environment and to providing emotional support and empathy at an extremely vulnerable time. The program has integrated components including crisis services to women who need shelter and support, transitional housing at Mary’s Place, supportive housing at Martha’s Place and rent subsidies. While housed at Prideaux Place, ERC beds will also be offered to men who are medically vulnerable.
Samaritan House services are low barrier, which means that neither sobriety nor mental health stability are required to receive services. Clients are generally only restricted if they become violent or abusive. Clients experiencing a mental health crisis beyond the capacity of the program are referred to the hospital or an Island Health outreach team.
Program participants are provided with a bed, bedding, meals, access to showers, hygiene supplies, and clothing.
ICCS workers provide on-site case management and referrals to community resources and programs. Staff work with health authority outreach workers and nurses to encourage clients to recover from physical, emotional, and psychological setbacks.
Drop-in services are not currently available at Prideaux Place and program placement is via community access referrals.
Samaritan House was the foundational work of the society, providing years of experience and understanding of what it means to truly help people in crisis. It began as a shelter for people struggling with addiction, as evidenced in the name of the society at that time: the Nanaimo Care Unit for Substance Abuse Society. That name didn’t last, but Samaritan House did, and it went on to become a beloved marker in peoples recovery journey, and valued service in our community. For over 20 years from its creation in 1984 before the society was registered, through to September of 2007 the shelter was co-ed. For the last 13 years it has been specializing in services for women, especially women with no other resources available in the community. These two long periods of dedicated service created a culture that will endure to meet new challenges as the program changes to meet the needs of people in Nanaimo.
Meet Lisa, a woman with hope, who courageously shares about living without a home, finding support and compassion at Samaritan House, and making a new start.