Fundraising campaign for expanding Nanaimo women's shelter gains traction, community support

By Spencer Sterritt
May 13, 2018 - 12:04am

Concerned senior Eva Hilborn, asking how elderly women are finding themselves on the street.Spenser Smith/Island Crisis Care Society

Activist and author Susan Scott speaking at awareness campaign for Samaritan House.Spenser Smith/Island Crisis Care Society

NANAIMO - The local community is rallying to help women desperately in need of housing.

Nearly every seat was taken at a recent awareness event about the Samaritan House women’s shelter and current expansion efforts.

The shelter, run by the Island Crisis Care Society, is raising $2 million to double its size, provide more beds for the increasing number of women coming to their door and also add more programs to keep women off the streets.

Society executive director Violet Hayes told the crowd women were turned away from Samaritan House more than 100 times in January due to capacity issues.

“We try to put them between the washer and dryer, we’re sliding them in hallways because we don’t want to turn them away,” she told the sympathetic crowd.

Many in the room were shocked to learn not only are more women coming to the shelter, but seniors have become a major group in dire need of housing.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong, who spoke at the event, said there’s serious generational issues at play in the homelessness crisis.

“A lot from (previous generations) stayed home, raised a kid, were dependent on their husbands. Their husbands pass away and a lot of their pensions are gone or cut in half. What was achievable is no longer,” she said.

Pensions are no longer sufficient to last a full month, many seniors in attendance said, with rent often consuming more than half of monthly income.

“If you need to pay $1,100 in rent for a small unit, you just can’t live.”

Plans, details and donation information to the Samaritan House expansion campaign can be found online.

 

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