Sandy Merriman House is an Emergency Shelter for Homeless and at risk women. We use an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female” and we welcome trans women, gender fluid and non-binary people.

Sandy Merriman House and drop in program is named after one of the women involved in the project.  Sandy Merriman died in 1995 from an accidental overdose; in honor of her memory the space now bears her name.

Built by women for women
One aspect that is so special about the shelter was how it was built.   It was initiated as a life skills project by Greater Victoria Women’s Shelter Society for unemployed/underemployed women.  The project initiated in 1994, provided the opportunity to give participants hands on training, working alongside professional trades people to learn skills.  Their motto in 1994 was Sandy Merriman House is “built by women for women”.

Management of Sandy Merriman House was taken over in 1997 by Cool Aid Society’s Shelter Program.

Who we serve
People over the age of 19 managing difficult challenges such as mental health, addictions issues, poverty, homelessness, hunger, sex trade work, abuse or isolation.
People who cannot often access transition houses and feel uncomfortable or unsafe staying at the other predominantly male shelters in town.

Daytime drop-in program open 11:30am-2:00pm daily, holidays included.
We offer a hot meal program, typically we serve lunch to between 20-30 people a day.  Many of the people that come to SMH during the day have housing but are finding it hard to make ends meet.  Other’s come for the socializing opportunities and to be in a safe and comfortable environment.   The daytime program offers laundry and shower services, hot lunch, food hampers (when we have them), nursing clinics, staff support and referrals.  All of services at Sandy Merriman House are free of cost, we also provide essentials for low-income people who are housed, but have a very limited budget; items like free menstrual supplies, harm reduction supplies, undergarments and toiletries etcetera.

Shelter Program
Our shelter program offers 25 regular beds and 4 emergency beds.  The length of stay is unique for each person and tied into goal planning.  Everyone has a minimum of 60 days in the shelter and if they decide to co-plan with a support team; that stay increases to give the time and space needed to work on their individual goals.

Intake information is anonymous, people only have to give minimal information to stay.  We are staffed by 3 support workers at a time, 2 on overnights.  This program offers shelter, meals, access to laundry and shower facilities, staff support, referrals and advocacy as well as other essential items such as menstrual supplies, harm reduction supplies, clothing etcetera.

Sandy Merriman House is open 365 days a year/ 24 hours a day with 2-3 support workers and 1 client service worker.

What you might not know; Sandy Merriman House is a building full of laughter, support and hope.   The people that access our services are facing or have faced challenges in their lives and still manage to be optimistic and encourage others.  It we are privileged to work in a place where we get to meet new and interesting people every day; hearing their stories and being a small part in their lives; witnessing resiliency.

We need your help. Cool Aid is always looking for donations of cash and goods so we can help more.

Donations Currently Needed at Sandy Merriman House:

  • Mugs
  • Cutlery
  • Towels
  • Weekly planners (one-year booklet)
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Umbrellas
  • Socks
  • Underwear (various sizes)
  • Bus Tickets

Due to storage restraints, we are unable to accept any donations of large household items or clothing at this time. Thank you for your understanding and generosity!

Watch this video to meet some of the people for whom we’re building homes, lives and community at Sandy Merriman House:


  • Province of BC and BC Housing
  • City of Victoria (tax exemption)