A new supportive housing building to provide homes to people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo is opening up.
An opening event was held Friday, March 18, for Samaritan Place in the 700 block of Nicol Street. The building is one of a handful of sites previously announced to replace the temporary supportive housing that was constructed in response to the Discontent City tent camp on the south downtown waterfront in 2018.
Samaritan Place, managed by Island Crisis Care Society, is a four-storey building with 51 studio apartments. One floor is reserved for vulnerable women, according to a press release from the B.C. government, and includes a mix of homes and shelter spaces. There is also one two-bedroom suite in the building that will serve as an emergency shelter space for women and their children on a short-term basis.
The building will have staff on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and tenants will be able to access services on site such as life-skills training, employment counselling, mental health resources and addiction recovery services.
“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, in a press release.
Violet Hayes, executive director of Island Crisis Care Society, said in the release that her society has “dreamed” of the day it could open a new Samaritan House.
“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,” she said. “We so appreciate all those who have made this dream a reality.”
Residents will start moving in on Tuesday, March 22. The release noted that the first tenants will be people who had been staying at the emergency response centre on Prideaux Street and at the temporary supportive housing on Terminal Avenue. The former community services building on Prideaux is being demolished to make way for another permanent supportive housing building there.
The provincial government spent $15.3 million on construction of the Nicol Street housing and will provide approximately $1.6 million annually in operating funding, noted the release. The City of Nanaimo waived $139,000 in development cost charges.