14:01 PM

New supportive homes open in Nanaimo

NANAIMO - People will soon begin moving into Samaritan Place, providing safe and secure homes for people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo.

"These homes will make a significant difference for people in Nanaimo who are experiencing homelessness by giving them a stable home with the supports they need to stabilize their lives," said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. "We are grateful to be working with the City of Nanaimo and Island Crisis Care Society to provide a place to call home for people in need."

These homes are the first of four supportive housing facilities that the Province and the City of Nanaimo have committed to create for people experiencing homelessness.

Located at 702 Nicol St., the four-storey building has 51 self-contained studio homes. Each home has a kitchenette and washroom. One secured floor has been reserved for vulnerable women and includes studio homes, plus 14 shelter spaces to provide a bridge to permanent housing.

There is a two-bedroom family unit on the ground floor. This will serve as an emergency shelter space available to women and their children on a short-term basis. A community amenity space with its own entrance is also located on the ground floor, which will be used for community events.

"These homes opening up at Samaritan Place show how strong partnerships can deliver for people in Nanaimo," said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo. "B.C.'s opened 490 affordable homes in the community since 2017, with hundreds more to open in the next few months and more to come."

The building will be managed by Island Crisis Care Society, which will have staff on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents will have access to on-site support services including life- skills training, employment assistance and counselling, physical and mental-health resources, as well as addiction-recovery services.

An innovative partnership with Island Health will see community health workers embedded at the site. These workers will have specialized mental-health and substance-use training to support their work delivering a variety of health-care services.

"At Island Crisis Care Society, we have dreamt of the day that we could open the doors of a new Samaritan House," said Violet Hayes, executive director, Island Crisis Care Society. "After years of making do and trying our best to support those who walked through our doors, we are so excited to be welcoming people into the new Samaritan Place, which will have one floor designated for women. We so appreciate all those who have made this dream a reality."

"Council and I are delighted that the new Samaritan Place building at 702 Nicol St. is ready for its new residents," said Leonard Krog, mayor, City of Nanaimo. "This supportive housing is part of the agreement the City of Nanaimo has with BC Housing to provide a welcomed 51 studio homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as 14 bridge-to-housing beds for women and one family unit."

Residents will start moving into the building on March 22. Priority has been given to people staying at the emergency response centre at 285 Prideaux St. and the temporary supportive housing site at 250 Terminal Ave.

Once all tenants have moved in and the former Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux St. is vacant, demolition of the building will begin. This will allow construction to get underway on the next permanent supportive housing building under the memorandum of understanding with the City of Nanaimo.

Quick Facts:

  • The Province provided a grant of approximately $15.3 million for the project through the Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund and will provide approximately $1.6 million in annual operating funding.
  • The City of Nanaimo provided approximately $139,000 in development cost charge waivers.
  • Since 2017, through investments by the Province, more than 1,200 new homes have opened or are underway in Nanaimo.

Learn More:

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/