Types of Housing to Assist those Experiencing Homelessness

Sep 2020 | Housing Resources

There are Different types of housing models (shelters, supportive housing, Subsidized Housing), with different levels of supports, allow social service agencies to meet people where they’re at on their path to stability and independent living.


Shelters are temporary spaces for people experiencing homelessness. Shelters can be single rooms, shared bedrooms or dorm-type bedrooms. Shelters usually provide food and a variety of other services. Some shelter spaces are only available seasonally or when weather conditions are hazardous.

The Unitarian Shelter on Townsite Road is an example of a year-round shelter operating in Nanaimo. The total number of shelter spaces in Nanaimo is approximately 150, which is far below the current need. There are over 433 people currently experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo and lack of shelter beds has led to a high number of people being forced to sleep on the streets.

Supportive Housing

Supportive housing gives people the help they need to move out of shelters and off the streets where as, Subsidized Housing offers affordable housing. Supportive housing stabilizes lives by providing on-site supports like access to mental and physical health care, life-skills training, education and more. The ultimate goal is to help people reset their lives so they can find stability and eventually live independently.

The housing at 6025 Uplands Drive in Nanaimo is a supportive housing unit run by Pacifica Housing, with 33 studio apartments.

Temporary Supportive Housing

This is short-term supportive housing in response to an emergency or crisis situation where a large number of people must be housed. An example of temporary supportive housing in Nanaimo is Newcastle Place at 250 Terminal Ave., operated by Island Crisis Care Society. This project provided 80 homes in response to a homeless encampment.

Subsidized Housing / Social Housing

These are housing developments that the government or a non-profit subsidizes to offer “affordable” rental rates (less than 30% of before-tax household income). The government or a non-profit housing partner owns and/or operates social housing. Albion Place at 510 Pine Street is a subsidized housing facility.

graph showing Subsidized Housing facts

Did you know? Campaign

There are many myths and unknowns about Nanaimo’s homelessness crisis. These misconceptions impact how we respond to those experiencing homelessness, as individuals and as a community. Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s Did you know? campaign strives to educate the public about the many factors that contribute to homelessness. Each month, we’ll explore a topic around homelessness to help inform the community.

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