Community Profile : Samaritan House
Samaritan House is operated by Island Crisis Care Society, an active member of Nanaimo Homeless Coalition, and is working towards our shared goal of reducing and ending homelessness in Nanaimo.
Samaritan House provides four services to women in crisis: emergency shelter, supportive housing, transitional housing and rent subsidies.
“Our programs meet women where they’re at,” says Ronéll Bosman, Samaritan House Program Director. “There’s no agenda, no expectations, no hoops to jump through and no timeline. We create a safe, warm and welcoming environment.”
Funded by BC Housing, Samaritan House’s Emergency Shelter normally has 14 beds, however due to COVID-19 protocols, they now have only seven beds. This low-barrier service welcomes women active in their addictions or struggling with mental health stability. Guests can can stay here as long as they need to.
While at Samaritan House women receive the essentials of life: a bed, meals and access to showers, hygiene products and clothing. There are also professional supports onsite: shelter staff, case management staff, outreach workers and referrals to community resources.
“Often Samaritan House is the last resort for women in Nanaimo,” says Bosman. “Women are creative with finding housing and hidden homelessness is common. They may couch surf or remain in unhealthy relationships, just to have a place to live.”
Sadly, 17 women were turned away from the Emergency Shelter in August 2020 because the shelter was full.
On the second floor of Samaritan House are six supportive housing units called Martha’s Place. Like the Emergency Shelter,Martha’s place is low-barrier access; residents need not be sober or have stable mental health to receive services here.
Martha’s Place offers secured, private rooms with shared washroom facilities, offering residents more independence. An evening meal is provided as well. While living here, women have access to support workers, outreach workers and case management workers. Martha’s Place also includes harm reduction programs and social and community integration.
Residents can stay at Martha’s Place for up to two years.
Mary’s Place is the transitional house in North Nanaimo. This is a dry facility; an environment that supports sobriety while women transition to independent living.
Residents here receive a small amount of support to make changes in their life and further develop their life skills to be successful in market housing. There are outreach check-ins daily and case plans are worked on throughout their stay.
Residents can stay at Mary’s Place for up to two years.
Programs for women
The programs at Samaritan House are extremely important for our community. Women fleeing domestic violence or abuse have a difficult time going to a shelter with men and will often choose to live on the streets instead.
“Samaritan House welcomes all women and we listen to what they need,” says Bosman. “We give women time to build trust with us. We focus on their strengths and celebrate them taking a huge step in taking care of themselves, by coming to us.”