Nanaimo women's shelter desperate for funds to stem capacity crisis

By Spencer Sterritt
September 7, 2017 - 4:31pm

Samaritan House, on Nicol St. in Nanaimo, is in dire need of an expansion to provide more beds and programs for women in need.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

 NANAIMO — In the midst of a crisis, Samaritan House in Nanaimo hopes the community will help fund their expansion, which is set to double their size and offer more services to women in need.

Samaritan House, which is run by the Island Crisis Care Society, had to turn away 111 women in August since they're at capacity every night.

Society executive director Violet Hayes told NanaimoNewsNOW expanding into the lot beside their building on Nicol St. will help house women and also offer pro-active solutions.

“We'll have the space where we can really help the women move forward. We can do programming and life skills, help them learn how to do interviews to help them find jobs and be able to fully be part of the community.”

Overall, the project costs more than $2 million to create a significant three-storey addition to their building.

Hayes said the cost is so high because commercial builds are more expensive than house construction, given the extra building codes which need to be followed.

This is a new fundraiser for Island Crisis Care. They obtained their development permits in April, 2017 and now have to raise the funds before April, 2018 when the permit expires.

“We're a small organization and we're local, so we don't get a lot of support,” Hayes said. “We see people be very generous with items and we've had some great support from local groups, but now what we need is big support to get us up and running.”

Hayes said they reached out to BC Housing for assistance in the expansion but were told there's no money for capital projects. Samaritan House has received two capital grants for renovations to their existing site.

NanaimoNewsNOW reached out to BC Housing for comment about the situation the organization faces across the province, but didn't receive a reply.

“We're hearing all the time there's no money for capital shelters as far as building projects, so we've decided to go on and trust the community is going to help us,” Hayes said.

If the $2 million isn't raised in time, Hayes said Samaritan House will have to reconsider their options.

“We're definitely hoping there's going to be some government funding to go along with it and we keep hearing that might be announced. We just have to have faith some money is coming.”

Other events are planned to help the fundraiser, such as an upcoming paint night which has already sold out.

Donations can be made online.


[email protected]

On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

Local department celebrates 60 years of firefighting